You may not have liked the outcome, but you have to admit it was exciting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning took a two-goal lead, blew a two-goal lead, fell behind twice and battled back each time to tie the score.
Then, they lost to the New Jersey Devils, 5-4, in overtime.
Evengy Artyukhin opened the scoring for Tampa Bay, putting the puck off the shoulder of New Jersey starting netminder Kevin Weekes. Josef Melichar assisted on the goal, which came at 1:38 into the game. Artyukhin’s sixth goal of the season was also Tampa Bay’s first shot on net in the game.
That stood as the only goal of the first period and when the buzzer sounded, the Lightning, led by three shots apiece from Artyukhin and Steven Stamkos, out shot New Jersey, 11-10.
Early in the second period, Weekes was injured and goaltending great Martin Brodeur came off the bench. If the Lightning feared that the change in net did not bode well, they needn’t have worried because the winningest goaltender in the NHL would go on to allow 3 goals on 10 shots for the remainder of the contest. But the four goals that Tampa Bay scored tonight were still not enough, even though Steven Stamkos put the Lightning ahead by two early in the period.
With New Jersey forward Jaime Langenbrunner in the penalty box for holding, Stamkos, standing in his accustomed spot just above the right faceoff circle, took a cross-ice pass from Martin St. Louis and blasted the puck past Brodeur at 5:09. Matt Lashoff also assisted on the power play goal.
The score was number 21 for Stamkos on the season, tying a franchise record for goals by a rookie, set by Brad Richards in 2000-2001.
Then, New Jersey joined the fray.
The comeback began at 13:05 when Brendan Shanahan was awarded a penalty shot after Lightning netminder Karri Ramo threw his stick in an effort to deflect the puck. Shanahan blistered a shot past Ramo to open the scoring for New Jersey.
The Devils tied the game at 2-2, just 1:45 seconds later, when Jay Pandolfo beat Ramo from the goalie’s left side, finding the far edge of the Lightning goal.
Before the second period ended, Artyukhin was whistled for hooking at 16:57 and the energized Devils made Tampa Bay pay as Jaime Langenbrunner fired the puck past Ramo from the high crease at 18:29. That goal completed the New Jersey turnaround, a 4:24 barrage which made the score 3-2 Devils as the second period came to a close.
But the Lightning were far from finished as Ryan Malone blocked a shot at the blue line and broke in alone on Brodeur early in the final period. Malone went to his backhand and netted goal number 26 on the season, his fourth goal in four games this season against New Jersey. The unassisted score at 2:41 brought Tampa Bay back into a 3-3 tie with the Devils.
And that tie held up for almost eight minutes, or until Jaime Langenbrunner picked up a loose puck just outside the goal crease to Ramo’s right and fired it home for his second goal of the contest.
But, as pointed out earlier, this was a game of give-and-takes and back-and-forths, and now it was the Lightning’s turn again, and they delivered when Martins Karsums picked up his first NHL goal at 14:06, when he buried a rebound of a shot by Lukas Krajicek into the open net to Brodeur’s right.
For the remainder of the final period, neither team could find the winning goal.
But the Devils eventually did, just 1:21 into overtime, when New Jersey’s leading scorer, Zach Parise, took a cross-ice pass from Travis Zajac and put the put into the net before Ramo could react to end the game, 5-4.
Tampa Bay generated only five shots on net in the third period, but two of those found their mark. Artyukhin led all Lightning skaters with five shots. Ramo finished with 34 saves on 39 shots.
For New Jersey, the win meant an end to their six-game losing skid; For the Lightning, with a winless streak extended to five games, it all meant a great effort and a hard-fought point earned.
But another overtime loss.
The Lightning will have to shake this one off quickly, however, as they head to Long Islander to finish the current road trip against the New York Islanders tomorrow night. After that, they return to the St. Pete Times Forum for their final two home games of the season.
1 - 0 TBL
Martin St. Louis
2 - 0 TBL
2 - 1 TBL