By Trevor Jahnke
What happened: After a scoreless first period, where both teams had good chances to score at various times, both teams headed to the first intermission with the game up for grabs.
In the second period, Adam Henrique scored on a rebound to put the New Jersey Devils ahead 1-0 but the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nate Thompson answered back ten minutes later. An Ilya Kovalchuk shorthanded marker gave the Devils back the lead before the second ended.
The third period got interesting referee-wise; the Devils lucked out surprisingly when the Lightning had 3 players in the box. Andy Greene put the Devs third goal in and than Patrik Elias followed it up with another 5-on-3 goal. Before the game finished the Lightning’s Matt Carle scored a 4-on-4 goal, but it wasn’t enough as the Devils won 4-2.
Star of the Game: The Devils Penalty Kill
The penalty kill was superb stopping the No. 2 power play in the league, limiting them to very few shots. Considering how dangerous the Lightning can be, they really didn’t threaten on the man-advantage at all. The Devils PK has been excellent over the last few games.
Goat of the Game: Steven Stamkos
Stamkos could’ve made this a game a couple of times, at one point missing a wide open shot and later failing on a breakaway. For a player that usually rises to the occasion, he didn’t, for tonight at least.
Turning Point: The 5-on-3 power-play in the 3rd
The Devils scored on back to back 5-on-3 power plays, just 14 seconds apart (eight seconds is the team record). That pretty much cemented the victory for the night.
Offense: B They capitalized on their chances, but with the amount of pressure they had in the first period, they needed to net one. The game was 2-1 before the power plays and it was too close, considering the amount of good cycling the Devils had going on throughout the game.
Defense: B+ The garbage-time goal aside, the defense was solid, but not overwhelming tonight. They didn’t turn the puck over with any frequency and they did a good job of not getting beat by Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.
Goaltending: B+ Marty made some nice saves but got beat on two decent, but not great, shots. He was good enough though.
Special Teams: A The power play got going and as we mentioned earlier, the PK was even better. A great day for the specials.
Weird game, a very weird game. I was so impressed with the Devils throughout the entire game to the point where I feel that this was the best game that they have played so far this season. This is until Clarkson went into the box and the Devils started relaxing, which the Lightning capitalized on. Luckily it didn’t progress any further than that.
Tonight was a great display of what the Devils are; a TEAM. Getting contributions from everyone on both offense and defense. This in my opinion was the best game the Red and Black played so far this year. They played hard for all three periods and shut down a very potent Tampa Bay offense. They capitalized on the 5-on-3 like they should have and came away with a very solid 4-2 win.