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The Devils tie the series at two and regain home-ice advantage on Scott Gomez's goal with 7:06 remaining in the extra period.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published April 19, 2007
The Lightning's Cory Sarich lies on the ice in front of goalie Johan Holmqvist Wednesday as the Brian Gionta celebrates the Devil's game-winning overtime goal.
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Johan Holmqvist spreads out on the ice to make a save as New Jersey's Brian Gionta tries to score in overtime.
Cory Sarich said he hesitated only a second. The puck wasn't bouncing, the Lightning defenseman said. He just wanted to make sure it was settled before he made a play.
But the delay created a chance for New Jersey forward Scott Gomez, who caused a turnover and scored the winner in New Jersey's 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday night before 20,940 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"Very frustrating," Sarich said. "To put together such a good effort and then to make a bad play like that, it hurts."
"I just got lucky," said Gomez, who scored unassisted with 7:06 remaining. "I went at him, but he's such a good D man, he usually gets his shots through."
The victory tied the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal at two and regained home-ice advantage for the Devils with the series headed back to New Jersey on Friday.
"It's a big momentum-shifter for us," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "You lose that, you're down 3-1. Now it's 2-2 and a different ballgame, so we're definitely happy about the situation we're in."
The Lightning should be disappointed. With Brodeur still shaky and after battling back in the second period to tie after trailing 3-1, the game was a missed opportunity.
That Tampa Bay contributed to its demise with puck-possession issues and extended periods during which it had trouble generating offense also was troublesome; as was a continued inability to cover Zach Parise, whose two goals gave him a series-high six, and a misfiring overtime power play.
Not that there weren't good things.
Goaltender Johan Holmqvist was solid overall and electrifying in a third period in which he made seven stops, all of which seemed like game-savers, while Tampa Bay went 11:36 without a shot.
Marty St. Louis was plus-2, played a game-high 32:36 and scored with 8:21 left in the second period to cut Tampa Bay's deficit to 3-2. He also made a hustling play to negate a potential icing and assist on Vinny Lecavalier's goal with 4:40 left that tied the score.
Eric Perrin scored his first career playoff goal. But in the end, there were just too many mistakes, forced and unforced.
"You have a chance to get pucks out, you have to get them out," captain Tim Taylor said. "You have a chance to get pucks in, you have to get them in. I don't think we had that mind-set.
"You can't give them second opportunities. During the regular season, you might get away with it. In the playoffs, you can't. Every play is intensified."
Brad Richards' turnover then failure to clear the puck from the defensive zone led to Brian Gionta's power-play goal that gave New Jersey a 1-0 first-period lead.
But Sarich's turnover was front and center. He said he tried to shoot on net into a screen. Instead, Gomez charged, blocked the puck and skated two-on-one with Gionta to score.
"I took too much time," said Sarich, who caused the turnover with his check of Patrik Elias that led to Perrin's goal. "I thought I had some room, but after I corralled it, I should have just shot it wide right or left."
"The way Jersey plays, if you don't have a chance to get it through, you at least have to get it down behind the net," coach John Tortorella said. "He tried to make a play. It didn't work. It's a turnover."
And a whole new ballgame.
First Period-1, New Jersey, Gionta 2 (Oduya, Rafalski), 6:04. 2, Tampa Bay, Perrin 1, 12:08. 3, New Jersey, Parise 5 (Martin, Zajac), 14:20. Penalties-Ward, TB (hooking), 4:03; Prospal, TB (goalie interference), 15:36; Elias, NJ (interference), 18:46.
Second Period-4, New Jersey, Parise 6 (Greene, Zajac), 9:42 (pp). 5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 3 (Kuba, Richards), 11:39. 6, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 5 (Prospal, St. Louis), 15:20. Penalties-Richards, TB (tripping), 5:34; Richards, TB (boarding), 8:02; Fedotenko, TB (roughing), 10:35; Gomez, NJ (roughing), 10:35; St. Louis, TB (slashing), 17:20; Lecavalier, TB (hooking), 18:42; New Jersey bench, served by Gomez (too many men), 19:43.
Third Period-None. Penalties-None. First Overtime-7, New Jersey, Gomez 1, 12:54. Penalties-Martin, NJ (delay of game), :43; Boyle, TB (hooking), 8:09. Shots on Goal-New Jersey 10-12-7-8-37. Tampa Bay 6-12-10-5-33. Power-play opportunities-New Jersey 1 of 7; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. Goalies-New Jersey, Brodeur 2-2 (33 shots-30 saves). Tampa Bay, Holmqvist 2-2 (37-33). A-20,940 (19,758). T-2:59. Referees-Dave Jackson, Mick McGeough. Linesmen-Derek Amell, Tim Nowak.
Available for Game 6 (Sunday) at the St. Pete Times Forum box office, Ticketmaster outlets, tampabaylightning.com or (813) 301-6600. In addition, about 200 tickets will be sold for $8 starting at 9 a.m.