Game 45: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils

If you had hopes for a high scoring game, you got it. It's just that the wrong team did the scoring. The home ice advantage proved no help as the Tampa Bay Lightning fell 5-2 to the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils came out strong, practically swarming the Bolts, caught the them off guard and created an early goal deficit that the Lightning couldn't overcome.

There was one glimmer of hope in the first: On a hi-sticking call against Steven Stamkos, the Bolts didn't waste any timeon the power play, and opened the scoring within ten seconds, on Martin St. Louis' pass to Stamkos from the center. Stamkos took the puck and scored against Martin Brodeur with his one-timer from the left circle (you know exactly where), gaining the momentary lead of 1-0.

Following the Stamkos' goal, his 32nd this season, the first two goals for New Jersey came from Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston, respectively, who both out-skated the defense, taking easy one-timers against Dwayne Roloson, both less than a minute and a half apart.

At 9:19, the Devils out-skated the Lightning defense again; Roloson deflected Rolston's first attempt from the left, but couldn't catch Patrik Elias' follow-up, raising the score 3-1.

The icing on the cake, per se, was the Lightning power play fifteen minutes into the first, cause by Rod Pelley's hi-sticking penalty. After a legitimate attempt by Simon Gagne, in which the puck hovered at the goal line (spectacular save by Brodeur), Travis Zajac took the goal to the Lightning end-zone and scored a short-handed goal for the Devils, finishing the first at 4-1.

Highlights and more after the jump.

Some may complain that the Gagne's goal should have been counted, that the review wasn't adequate, but after watching replay, it seemed clear to me that the puck didn't cross the line, though it was mighty close.

At four goals, Dan Ellis replaced Roloson, who only saved five of nine shots of goal.

The Lightning had a rough first period, but it wasn't for lack of effort. The Bolts had ten hits, but only nine shots and a 55% faceoff win percentage.

Essentially, the Lightning let the Devils get the better of them. Though they regrouped in the second and third period, they were unable to gain any presence against New Jersey. Guy Boucher noted the effort:

"We battled really hard after, I don't think we quit. We changed some of our systems, tried to get some more offense, and we did."

At 14.55, St. Louis scored a second Lightning goal after struggling past the Devil's defense, slid back, and composed himself to bury the puck against Brodeur. Kovalchuk scored his second goal, unassisted, in the third, and the game finished at 5-2.

But against Brodeur, who made 30 saves overall, the effort wasn't enough.

For highlights and more, see the video below:

In six games, the Lightning has beat the Washington Capitals twice, but fell to the New Jersey Devils twice, raising reminders of the insistence on inconsistency, and strange patterns of wins and losses.

The Lightning (26-14-5) will travel to North Carolina to face the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow night at 7:00 PM. If you're watching the game at home, the obvious thing to do is stop by the game thread and say hello.

Other Recaps:

Devils vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Devils vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Devils vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]

In Lou We Trust [SB Nation]