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Lightning's road misery continues
New Jersey's big third sends the Lightning to 0-5 away from home.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published November 1, 2007
Jay Pandolfo caps a two-on-nothing by putting a shot past Johan Holmqvist, giving the Devils a 2-0 second-period lead.
Both benches salute the Lightning's Nick Tarnasky and Devils' Sheldon Brookbank for a first-period fight, one of three in the game.
NEWARK, N.J. - This is how Wednesday night ended for the Lightning.
It ended with one of its top scorers staring blankly ahead in an empty dressing room, twisting a towel with his hands, trying to find the words to express his frustration.
It ended with a coach admitting he sensed his players were pressing on the bench so much that they played themselves out of another road game - and an opportunity to end a dubious streak.
And it ended with the Lightning players and coaches leaving their dressing room and looking up to see the pipes leaking water, puddles in their path, on their way to the team bus at the two-game-old Prudential Center.
The Lightning's 6-1 loss to the Devils marked a new low in a spiraling start on the road. Tampa Bay (5-5-1) tied the most goals it allowed this season and lost its fifth straight game away from home to start the season, extending its worst road start in franchise history.
But this game was different than Monday's loss to the Rangers, when coach John Tortorella pretty much called his team a bunch of skating zombies - only in a much more colorful way.
The Lightning rebounded from a slow start, a 2-0 deficit, and seemed to take the momentum of the game early in the third period.
But the Devils answered with four goals over the final 12:46, the first a backbreaker that came off a neutral zone faceoff the Lightning won.
"Our problem right now is that we're not generating enough offense," Tortorella said. "And in us trying to generate the offense, we're forgetting about the defense, where it's got to be the other way around."
Tortorella counted just five Tampa Bay scoring opportunities Wednesday night. But the lead was in half when Marty St. Louis fed Vinny Lecavalier on the power play with 1:47 left in the second.
Tortorella then mixed his lines, which seemed to work at first because the Lightning was quick to the puck and aggressive with the forecheck.
But just eight seconds after Craig MacDonald won a faceoff in the neutral zone, Arron Asham tipped in Patrik Elias' shot from the right boards.
"We thought we had the momentum," St. Louis said. "And they scored that third goal, and it just can't happen. It's frustrating. It really deflates you. We hung in there. It wasn't pretty, but we were still in the game at that time. We just couldn't get the next goal."
After that, the roof fell in quickly. And by the end, a Devils team that scored just one goal in its previous two games had a season-high in goals and its first win in its new $375-million building.
The only good thing was that the Lightning left New Jersey for Long Island, where it plays tonight and tries to salvage a win on the three-game, four-day swing through Gotham and the surrounding areas.
"We're embarrassed right now," Tortorella said. "It's good that we get to play again. That's one thing that's great about our game. You get to play in a lot of games, and it's these situations where you really want to get on the ice and play.
"It's just a matter of not letting the frustration level get to the point where you start pressing even more."
First Period-None. Penalties-Tarnasky, TB, major (fighting), 6:46; Brookbank, NJ, major (fighting), 6:46; O'Brien, TB, major (fighting), 10:08; Clarkson, NJ, major (fighting), 10:08; Tarnasky, TB (interference), 19:08.
Second Period-1, New Jersey, Madden 5 (Zubrus, Pandolfo), 4:32. 2, New Jersey, Pandolfo 4 (Madden, Zubrus), 6:20. 3, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 7 (St. Louis, Richards), 18:13 (pp). Penalties-Gionta, NJ (interference), 8:54; Clarkson, NJ (holding), 13:37; Zajac, NJ (hooking), 16:36.
Third Period-4, New Jersey, Asham 3 (Elias), 7:14. 5, New Jersey, Pandolfo 5 (Madden, Martin), 11:00. 6, New Jersey, Parise 3 (Gionta, Zajac), 13:24 (pp). 7, New Jersey, Pandolfo 6 (Vishnevski, Madden), 18:40. Penalties-Gratton, TB, major (fighting), 5:14; Clarkson, NJ, major (fighting), 5:14; Roy, TB, double minor (roughing), 12:55; Ward, TB (hooking), 15:27. Shots on Goal-Tampa Bay 5-9-8-22. New Jersey 7-13-10-30. Power-play opportunities-Tampa Bay 1 of 3; New Jersey 1 of 4. Goalies-Tampa Bay, Holmqvist 5-3-1 (27 shots-22 saves), Denis (13:24 third, 3-2). New Jersey, Brodeur 3-6-0 (22-21). A-13,218 (17,625).