Rolston and Andy Greene celebrate New Jersey's first goal of the game against Tampa Bay.
newjerseydevils.com – The Devils didn't get off to the start they would have liked, but the ending suited them just fine.
After falling behind 2-0 to the Lightning in the first period, the Devils rebounded with goals by Brian Rolston and Zach Parise to force a shootout Thursday in Tampa Bay.
Patrik Elias then delivered the winning tally in the shootout's second round, while Kevin Weekes stopped two of three to seal an exciting 3-2 victory over the slumping Bolts.
Elias used a stutter step to get Karri Ramo to open up the pads, then slipped a forehand through the five-hole of the Lightning netminder. Parise was New Jersey's first shooter, and scored on a perfect backhander over Ramo's glove to tie the shootout at 1.
After allowing Lecavalier's backhander to sneak between his pads, Weekes denied Vinny Prospal and Ryan Malone, who had two goals for Tampa Bay in regulation.
Rolston's 11th of the season cut the deficit in half early in the middle frame. Parise's team-leading 35th tied it early in the third. Both came on the power play for the Devils (38-18-3), who improved to 1-1 on their three-game road trip and secured their 14th win in the last 17 games.
New Jersey went 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
"I thought we worked hard in the first period, we just weren't playing very intelligent," said head coach Brent Sutter. "We started using our heads better and protecting pucks better."
Weekes made a season-high 39 saves to notch his seventh victory of the season and extend his personal winning streak to five games. He has allowed two goals or less in each of his last five starts.
One of Weekes' best saves of the night came 6:43 into the third, when he foiled Evgeny Artyukin's breakaway chance.
Ramo made 38 stops for Tampa Bay, which fell to 2-6-2 in its last 10 games.
First-place New Jersey maintained its eight-point lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division, and tied idle Washington for second place in the Eastern Conference with 79 points. The Flyers beat the Sabres, 6-3, on Thursday.
Jersey's Team, which improved to 5-2 in the shootout, closes out its road trip with Saturday's stop at Nassau Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders.
Malone opened the scoring with his 20th of the season 4:33 into the first period. He collected a pass from Martin St. Louis in front of the net and faked a backhander at the top of the crease before spinning a forehand around Weekes' right pad.
Later in the first, Weekes misplayed Malone's floater from the left circle and the Lightning took a 2-0 lead with 7:05 remaining. The puck glanced off Weekes' extended catching glove and dropped into the net for Malone's 21st at 12:55.
"It was a little bit of a wake up call," Rolston said. "They get two quick ones on us and I don't think we were playing horrible in the first period. It was just one of those things, they got up on us real quick. We just turned around and thought we took it to them pretty well."
In the second period, a tripping call on Lecavalier set up the Devils' first scoring play of the evening.
Rolston converted with a power-play blast from the top of the left circle that trickled through Ramo and over the line at 2:16. The Devils' left wing has four points in his last three games (2g-2a).
"It was a nice win for us," Rolston said. "A good gut check. We came back and Weeksie played strong for us."
Parise missed the second period with what was called "a touch of the stomach flu," but returned to tie the game at 2 on a power play early in the third. He moved ahead of Philadelphia's Jeff Carter (34) into sole possession of second place on the League's goals list.
With St. Louis in the box for hooking, Jamie Langenbrunner's blast deflected up off of Ramo, off the face of Travis Zajac and right to Parise, who controlled with his foot before slipping the puck into the open right side at 1:13.
Zajac left the ice but returned for overtime sporting a cut on his top lip.
The Devils spent the final two minutes of regulation killing off Dainius Zubrus' penalty for holding the stick. New Jersey's PK was a perfect 4-for-4 on the evening.
NJD NOTES Brendan Shanahan returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore foot... Paul Martin (upper body soreness) missed his third straight contest. Defenseman Anssi Salmela was called up Wednesday from Lowell (AHL) and saw his first action with New Jersey since Nov. 29. The Finnish blueliner got 17:26 of ice time, including 3:04 on the power play.
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
2 - 0 TBL