Game 34: Tampa Bay Lightning versus New Jersey Devils

An auspicious NHL debut for new Lightning head coach Jon Cooper as the Lightning erase two-goal deficits twice to force overtime and eventually triumph in a shootout.

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in a shootout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Friday night.

"Wow. How about that?" - Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

Another sellout crowd was on hand to witness a pair of unlikely comebacks from two-goal deficits in tonight's win. Unlikely, in that being down by two goals when facing Martin Brodeur is like being down by three or four against most other goalies.

"That's just what a Cooper team does. We've got a lot of character, we've got a lot of guys who want to win. We do that here. We're going to work hard and we're going to have a lot of fun. It's going to be exciting." - Lightning forward Cory Conacher

There was not a lot of excitement early on as the first period featured about as much action as you can expect when facing the Devils. Aside from Radko Gudas's fight with Tom Kostopoulos (Gudas's first in the NHL), nothing notable happened and the period ended in a 0-0 tie.

The second period made up for it, however with a veritable flurry (remember, it's the Devils) of goals scored.

The Devils started the scoring at 5:50 when Andrei Loktionov scored on assists from Matt D'Agostini and Andy Greene.

Less than a minute later, Victor Hedman was whistled for an extremely questionable hooking penalty that resulted in a penalty shot for Kostopoulos, which he converted to make the score 2-0.

The Bolts began their first comeback at the 8:00 mark when Steven Stamkos scored on helpers from Martin St. Louis and Keith Aulie.

At 10:26, Nate Thompson tied the game when he squeezed between two defenders and scored on assists from Richard Panik and Gudas.

The Devils pulled back out in front again at 13;58 on a power play goal by Greene with D'Agostini and Marek Zidlicky offering assistance.

The period ended with New Jersey leading 3-2

At 2:39 of the third, the Devils doubled the lead to 4-2 when Ryan Carter scored shorthanded and unassisted.

The Bolts mounted their second comeback of the night at 7:11 when Stamkos scored his second of the night (and league-leading 25th of the season). Alex Killorn provided the assist.

With 15 seconds remaining in regulation and goaltender Mathieu Garon pulled for an extra skater, Killorn tied the game thanks to assists from Stamkos and Matt Carle.

When overtime failed to solve the matter, it was time for the shootout. Cooper elected to shoot first and sent out Teddy Purcell who scored. He was followed by Hedman who also converted while Garon turned away both New Jersey attempts to clinch the win.

"It's a win and that's what we needed right now. There were obviously mistakes that we made, it wasn't perfect systematically. We are changing some things up with the new coaching staff, so it's going to take some time, but to come back from two, two-goal deficits in a game against a team that has been finding ways to get points is huge. We were able to feed off that crowd and get a big win." - Stamkos

The Lightning will be in action again on Tuesday night, closing out this three-game homestand against the Florida Panthers. But tonight...

"My family flew down for this and they can be a rowdy, fun bunch sometimes, so we'll have fun with this one." - Cooper

Game notes:

  • Stat of the night? Brodeur is 0-for-three in shootouts this season, giving up five goals on eight shots..
  • The Lightning hadn't beaten New Jersey in Tampa since February 25, 2011.
  • Stamkos is on pace to tally 35 goals this season. Extended over a full 82 games, he would be on pace for 60.
  • Four of Thompson's seven goals this season have come against New Jersey.
  • Rookie defenseman Andrej Sustr made his NHL debut, logging 13:07 of ice time.
  • The Lightning honored Sylvia Alvarez as the 33rd Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils. Alvarez, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Housing and Education Alliance ( Alvarez has helped hundreds of families through these tough economic times in the Tampa Bay community by providing them with free foreclosure prevention services. As many people struggle to pay their mortgage and keep food on the table for their families, Alvarez has been a champion for the homeless. She is the executive director for the Housing and Education Alliance in Tampa Bay, a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, and helps people with their mortgage troubles. Alvarez went two and a half years without salary to help the organization stay afloat and even experienced a foreclosure herself during that time period. The staff at the Housing and Education Alliance, along with Alvarez's guidance has helped more than 500 local families to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes during tough financial times. Her organization is currently delivering more than 360,000 hours of education and one-on-one counseling to over 18,000 homeowners in the Tampa Bay area.
  • In case you didn't know, my computer blew up (well, not literally; there was no shrapnel or anything like that. I'm fine, by the way) during the second intermission of the last home game, which is why I didn't file a game recap (thank you to Andy Boron of "Die by the Blade" for taking care of that, by the way). The worst part, aside from having to buy a new computer, was not being able to highlight that night's Community Hero, so without further delay...
  • Tuesday, the Lightning honored Walter Lamerton as the 32nd Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of that night's game against the Buffalo Sabres. Lamerton, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the USO of Tampa Bay ( Lamerton established a welcoming center at Tampa International Airport for United States military members returning from battle overseas. He got the idea after crossing paths one day with a 23-year-old soldier, returning from Afghanistan, sleeping on the floor at the airport. A retired Air Force jet engine mechanic, Lamerton discovered that more than 300,000 military personnel transit the airport annually. He decided to rent a space at the airport that would allow troops and their families to gather to enjoy entertainment. In two years, Lamerton secured enough funding and more than 550 volunteers and formed a USO Board of Directors, Advisory Board and committees. The USO recognizes the sacrifices the troops and their families make for this country, and make it their mission to make sure they are remembered and supported.