Game 77: Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils

Mar 29; Newark, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone (12) laughs during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the New Jersey Devils 6-4.

The return of Vincent Lecavalier to the lineup was less than stunning. Though, I'm not talking about him. I'm talking about the game. Vinny played fairly well, and almost played as much as Martin St. Louis did in terms of ice time. Marty played 19:26, while Vinny played 17:38.

So much for keeping track of his ice time, as had been talked about previous to the game.

Outside of that, Steven Stamkos did not score a goal. However, Ryan Malone did get himself a hat trick. It was the fourth hat trick of Malone's career, and it was against Martin Brodeur, who has only allowed three hat tricks since the lockout. Two of those hat tricks were this year, too - St. Louis's in February, and now Malone's.

The first period looked promising. The Lightning had nine shots on goal, and they were up 1-0 on a Malone goal. Then the second period happened, and the Devils scored four goals. It wasn't all doom and gloom in the second, however, as Malone scored two more.

There was a bit of controversy in the second period as well. It looked like Sebastien Caron was going to replace Dwayne Roloson in net after the Devils fourth goal. Caron had gone so far as to get on the ice and start warming up, but it was a miscommunication and Roloson finished the second period.

Roloson did not, however, finish the third. Caron did replace him in the third, and didn't allow a goal after he came into the game. But, by that time, the Devil's already had six goals.

Two stats stand out with this game. One is shots on goal. The Lightning managed to break 20 by getting 20 shots on goal, but they allowed 38 shots. Allowing the other team almost 40 shots on your goalie is typically not a winning strategy.

The other statistic is faceoffs. The Lightning won 18 of 57 faceoffs. That's a 32% winning percentage for the entire team. When your best faceoff guy is a player from the minor league team, you've got problems. Nothing against Trevor Smith, who was 3 of 7 (43%) in the faceoff circle, but that's also not exactly a winning strategy.

The next game is Saturday, 1 April, versus the Winnipeg Jets at home. This game is reportedly the debut of newly signed forward J.T. Brown. Game time is an earlier than usual 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will be available at 6:30 pm.

As a side not, the next Norfolk Admirals game is tonight at 7:30 pm Eastern. They play the St. John's IceCaps, which are the farm team of the Winnipeg Jets. The Admirals will be looking to extend their winning fluke to 22 games. As Tyler Johnson likes to say, 21's a fluke but 22's a streak.

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