Lightning 3, Devils 1
New Jersey Devils
newjerseydevils.com – In Brent Sutter's head coaching debut, Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, including the eventual game winner, as the Devils opened the 2007-08 regular season with a 3-1 loss to the Lightning in Tampa.
Brian Gionta scored New Jersey's lone goal, and Martin Brodeur made 21 saves in his 13th consecutive season-opening start for the Devils, who slipped to 16-5-4 in openers.
Gionta's goal, a power-play tally on assists from Zach Parise
and Travis Zajac
, got New Jersey out to a 1-0 lead at 9:06 of the first.
With Paul Ranger in the box for interference, Zajac retrieved the puck in the corner and worked it to Parise in the slot. The left winger spun a backhander toward the net, and Gionta, set up near the crease, was able to tip the puck past Lightning goaltender Johan Holmqvist for his 200th career point.
Lecavalier's first of the night at 9:35 of the second evened the game at 1-1, and Brodeur helped preserve the tie at the halfway point of the third with a highlight-reel glove save on a Michel Ouellet deflection.
The Lightning took the lead for good on Lecavalier's second of the night, a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Brodeur at 16:08 of the third period to break the 1-1 tie. Vinny Prospal added an empty-net goal wth 58 seconds remaining.
Nicklas Bergfors, New Jersey's 2005 first-round pick, made his NHL debut and nearly registered his first goal in the dying seconds of the first period when he slipped behind Tampa's defenders and redirected a Patrik Elias
pass on net.
New Jersey was without defenseman Colin White
(puck to the eye area), right wing Jamie Langenbrunner
(groin), and right wing Cam Janssen (separated shoulder).
Next up, the Devils visit Florida for a 7:00 PM start on Saturday (FSN NY2, WFAN 660 AM), before making stops in Ottawa (Oct. 8, 3:00 PM), Florida (Oct. 11, 7:30 PM), Atlanta (Oct. 13, 7:00 PM), Pittsburgh (Oct. 17, 7:30 PM), and Philadelphia (Oct. 18, 7:00 PM).
The season-high nine-game trip concludes with matchups against the Islanders (Oct. 20, 7:00 PM) and the Rangers (Oct. 25, 7:00 PM).
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