Devils 3, Lightning 2 FINAL
The Devils got back into the wins column with a clutch goal from the captain.
broke a 2-2 tie with 38.1 seconds left in regulation to seal the Devils' 3-2 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
The go-ahead goal was Langenbrunner's sixth of the season. He redirected Andy Greene
's wrist shot from the point past Lightning netminder Antero Niittymaki at 19:21 of the third
The Devils bounced back from Wednesday's loss to Vancouver by winning for the seventh time in their last eight home games.
stopped 22 of 24 shots to improve to 16-7-1. Niittymaki finished with 16 saves.
New Jersey (18-7-1) got all three of its goals in the third period, including power-play tallies by Brian Rolston
and Niclas Bergfors. They erased a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead before Tampa Bay's Steve Downie tied it with three minutes remaining in regulation. Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the Lightning.
"We worked a pretty good play on the cycle there, Rollie and I, as far as getting up in the play," Langenbrunner said of the winning goal. "I knew Trav (Zajac) was high, so we were OK that way. I was able to roll off and come to the net. Great play by Greenie. I don't think enough can be said about how quick he came off the boards there to create that lane and get that shot through. It's a great play."
Langenbrunner thought he got a piece of Greene's shot with his stick.
"I think so, I don't know," he said. "It felt like it. I have no idea, but I'll take it."
Lecavalier's wraparound goal staked the Lightning to a 1-0 lead at 1:26 of the second period. The Devils rallied when Tampa Bay took three straight penalties to open the third.
Rolston tied it at 1-1 with his ninth goal of the season and fifth on the power play. It took three seconds of Lukas Krajicek's slashing minor for Rob Niedermayer to win the draw back to Rolston for a blast from the top of the left circle at 1:15.
"That thing just laid there on a silver platter," said Rolston, who also had the secondary assist on Langenbrunner's tally. "It came back and I don't even know if it was moving, it came back so slow and almost stopped there. I just had a free lane to the net. I'm always looking to shoot that one, but a lot of times it doesn't happen like that, so great job by Nieder. Give him credit, he's the guy that got it back to me."
The Devils power play that had produced four goals on its previous 17 chances (23.5%) finished 2-for-4 on Friday, while the PK stopped three of four Lightning opportunities.
"It's huge," Rolston said. "Tonight's game was like a trap both ways. We didn't get very many opportunities. They played a good, system game. I thought they played really well, and the power play's become huge; the penalty kill's become huge."
The Devils couldn't score when Jeff Halpern went into the box just 20 seconds later, but Bergfors gave them a 2-1 lead after Steven Stamkos was called for tripping at 3:50.
pressured ex-Devil David Hale into coughing up the puck in front of his own net, and Bergfors came across the slot to bang home his eighth of the season at 5:14.
Zharkov got his stick on the puck as Hale tried to get rid of it, earning his first NHL point with an assist.
"It's my third (NHL) game, and I played well," Zharkov said. "My second game, I think was not that good. Today was very nice. Good play and good shot from Bergy. Coach believes in me because twice he played me on the power play. For me, I like playing on the power play."
|Corrente doing battle with Konopka.
Matt Corrente played a high-energy game, dropping the gloves in each of the first two periods. He landed a barrage of rights on Tampa Bay's James Wright in the opening frame, then held his own against tough guy Zenon Konopka in the second.
Later in the second, Mark Fraser
got the best of Ryan Malone after Malone had decked Patrik Elias
along the boards in Devils' territory.
Fraser was in the box for hooking when Downie's power-play goal knotted the game at 2-2. Malone passed cross-ice for Stamkos at the left circle, and Stamkos zipped a cross-slot feed to a wide-open Downie for the tap-in at 17:00
"I was looking at Malone going across and I just saw Stamkos wide open," Brodeur said. "So I went over as fast as I could – he's a shooter not a passer. He kind of fooled me there, too, like everybody."
Lecavalier scored his sixth of the season 1:26 into the second period. Mike Mottau turned the puck over to Halpern, who dished to Lecavalier for a wraparound. The Lightning captain snuck the puck between Brodeur's left skate blade and the right post.
The Devils will try for their fourth straight sweep of a back-to-back when they host Detroit on Saturday.
Langenbrunner extended his points streak to three games (1g-3a)… Greene stretched his assists streak to three games (3a)… Bergfors extended his points streak to three games (2g-1a).
• With 30:11 of ice time and the primary assist on the winning goal, Greene was one of the night's unsung heroes.
Head coach Jacques Lemaire thought Greene was his best player.
"All the good passes, all the retrieves that he made," Lemaire said. "You know, the nice pass to his partner or even skating with the puck, getting away from people, holding on to the puck, taking the check, making the right pass. Feeding the right guy."
Greene's play was key on Langenbrunner's goal. Rolston dug the puck out of the right corner for the pass to Greene at the right point. Greene quickly got it to the front of the net.
"I got lucky and threw a puck on the net and got one there," Greene said. "Obviously, it happens pretty quickly but once you get it, you're just trying to throw it to an area where maybe a guy can get a stick on it. If not, it makes the goalie gives up a rebound or something. You want to make sure you keep it within the net. You don't want to miss it wide and give them a chance to break out."
Lemaire said Greene is playing a confident game.
"He's on top of his game," said Lemaire. "He started a little slow but he had good moments. All of a sudden he started to be our top defenseman, and he's been since."
• The Devils spent the first half of the contest struggling to find an offensive rhythm. They didn't record their first shot of the night until almost eight minutes into the game, and only had six shots by the midway point of the contest.
"We definitely didn't create enough or do enough good things early on," Langenbrunner said. "No excuse to have six shots 35 minutes into the game. Our power play did a good job of creating a couple of holes and giving us a couple of chances tonight."
Lemaire said the win was satisfying.
"We were playing good defensively and we were focused on that before the game, but offensively we had about this much," he said, forming a zero with his hand. "Coming back in the third and getting three goals, that was great."
• Fraser was eager to rush to the aid of a teammate when Elias was checked hard by Malone at 12:17 of the second period.
"That's the role I intend to play here," Fraser said. "I'm only really out there to do it if I have to defend myself or a teammate. He's definitely one of our elite players, and you can't have anyone trying to take liberty on my teammates."
Fraser didn't think it was a dirty hit by Malone.
"I have to protect all of our players out there," he said. "It's what I believe I'm here to do, and what I'm comfortable doing."
Lemaire liked what he saw from Corrente and Fraser.
"They want to be part of it," the coach said. "They get involved, that's good."
|Three star selections