Game 4 recap: Lightning on short end in 2-1 loss to New Jersey

Without longtime goaltender Martin Brodeur in net, it's a new look for the New Jersey Devils, although tonight's 2-1 win over the Lightning sure looked awfully familiar. A limited number of offensive opportunities for both teams as New Jersey converts more of theirs than the Lightning did to

The New Jersey Devils beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday night.

For the first time since before the Lightning entered the league, Martin Brodeur is not a member of the New Jersey Devils organization. It may be the beginning of a new era in New Jersey but the Devils continued to do what they almost always do to the Lightning; control play in the neutral zone, make it difficult to generate offensive opportunities and smother what few there may be with stellar goaltending.

Believe it or not, coming into tonight's contest, both the Devils and Lightning were in the NHL's top five in terms of scoring with the Devils on top, averaging 5.5 goals a game and the Lightning ranked fourth, averaging 4.0.

Playing the second of back-to-back games following a night when the Bolts had offensive chances galore, tonight they were on the short end when it came to converting what few there were.

"I thought we came out exceptionally well. It's the old saying; it's a game of inches. We battled hard. We had chances as they did. It came down to special teams at the end, we both got the power play in the third. They scored on theirs and we didn't. That was the difference in the game." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

"We knew what we were going to get tonight. We knew it was going to be a low scoring game... I thought we passed up some chances to shoot, which we can't do against a team that is not going to give up quality chances." - Lightning forward Steven Stamkos

It looked like the Lightning might have taken the early lead at 3:29 of the first with Nikita Kucherov poking away at the puck in the corner of the Devils net. But the whistle blew and the officials ruled that the puck did not completely cross the goal line, a ruling that was upheld up by the NHL Situation Room:

The period ended in a scoreless tie.

The Devils got on the board at 7:38 of the second with Travis Zajac cleaning up his own rebound in front of the net. Andy Greene and Mike Cammalleri were credited with assists on the play. The Devils were able to carry that 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

Both goalies were exceptional tonight, with Evgeni Nabokov making his Lightning debut, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced. His counterpart for the Devils, Cory Schneider held off 26 of the 27 shots that came his way.

The Lightning tied the game at 8:59 of the third on Alex Killorn's first goal of the season, with help coming from Tyler Johnson and Anton Stralman.

Just over two minutes later at 11:19, New Jersey cashed in on the power play, the first such goal the Lightning have allowed this sreason, with what would be the eventual game winner, with Cammalleri scoring on assists by Patrick Elias and Martin Havlat.

"We knew they were going to come out hard. Even though they played their third game in four nights, they are a good young skating team." - New Jersey forward Patrick Elias

This concludes the season-opening four-game homestand and the Lightning's next game will be Saturday night against the Canucks in Vancouver.

Game notes:

  • This was the Lightning's first regulation loss this season.
  • The Lightning close out the homestand banking five of a possible eight points.
  • This was the second game in a row where the Lightning's opponent came in undefeated.
  • The Lightning had four players score goals in the three meetings against New Jersey last season, only one of whom (Steven Stamkos) is still with the team.
  • Tyler Johnson played in his 100th NHL game tonight.
  • Ondrej Palat's next game will be his 100th. Radko Gudas is two games away from the milestone.
  • Tonight's assistant captains for the Lightning were Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman.
  • The Lightning honored Lee Bird Leavengood as the fourth Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Leavengood, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Tampa Bay History Center and Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at USF. Everyday life is brighter and more enriching for hundreds of senior citizens living in Tampa Bay because of the hard work Leavengood has done with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Seniors are offered workshops and seminars at the University of South Florida and Leavengood's two years of hard works makes it all possible. More than 10,000 seniors have broadened their horizons through the 300 low-cost, high quality courses that OLLI offers on an annual basis at 16 accessible classroom sites throughout Hillsborough County. Leavengood has translated her passion for lifelong learning into a program that is known nationwide for enriching the minds and lives of senior citizens throughout Tampa Bay. She has led a variety of USF programs for individuals 55 or older, reaching a pinnacle as Director of USF's newly created Division of Senior Programs in 1974. Leavengood has been a volunteer leader for a variety of community organizations, including Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and the Tampa Bay History Center, as well as the vice chair of Florida's Status of Women Commission.