Less than 24 hours after winning 6-0, Tampa Bay finds itself on the other end of the shutout.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 2001
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Lightning ended its five-game road swing with a dose of reality.
One night after smoking the Islanders 6-0 -- and getting New York coach Butch Goring fired in the process -- Tampa Bay ran into the Devils and were dumped 6-0 in front of an announced 13,378 at Continental Airlines Arena.
"Two different ends of the spectrum," Lightning coach John Tortorella said of the quality of the past two opponents.
Petr Sykora, Scott Gomez and Jason Arnott scored twice and goaltender Martin Brodeur made 15 saves for his seventh shutout and 49th of his career. The Lightning was outshot 30-15, including 15-3 in the four-goal third period.
Brodeur improved his record to 20-4-2 against Tampa Bay and became the first goaltender to shut out the Lightning four times.
"Last night, the team was in disarray and playing with a system," Lightning defenseman Adrian Aucoin said of the Islanders. "This team (the Devils), I didn't think they worked that hard. They just play a good system. They make the first pass hard to make and if you can't make the first pass, the others are even harder."
Wade Flaherty made his first start in goal for Tampa Bay since being acquired from the Islanders on Feb. 16. Tampa Bay was without leading goal-scorer Fredrik Modin and forward Todd Warriner, sidelined with groin strains suffered against the Islanders.
Though the Devils didn't get their first shot on goal until 8:55 into the game, it outshot the Lightning 7-5 in the first period and got the first good scoring chance.
That came at 4:22 when Patrik Elias blew past Lightning defenseman Adrian Aucoin to capture a loose puck. But Aucoin recovered and poke-checked Elias just before he got off a shot.
One minute later, Lightning defenseman Grant Ledyard fed Brad Richards to the right of Brodeur and he launched a one-timer that the goaltender stopped.
The Devils broke out two-on-one at 8:46 after Lightning defenseman Cory Sarich pinched in from the blue line and lost the puck to Elias, who drove the net along with Petr Sykora against defenseman Jassen Cullimore.
Elias fed Sykora. But Sykora's shot hit Elias, who flashed in front of Flaherty to try to create a screen.
The Devils broke through on the power play at 14:47. With Nils Ekman in the penalty box for tripping, Bobby Holik fed Sykora, who one-timed the pass past Flaherty.
The play started at the other end of the ice as Brodeur passed to Arnott at the blue line. Arnott passed to Elias, who went cross-ice to Holik, who fed Sykora.
The Lightning had a great chance short-handed at 15:57 when forwards Martin St. Louis and Ryan Johnson broke out two-on-one. St. Louis shot from the faceoff circle but couldn't beat Brodeur.
The Devils went ahead 2-0 at 16:40 of the second period on their second power-play goal, though Tampa Bay was done in by an unfortunate bounce and a questionable penalty call on Ryan Johnson.
The Lightning forward was called for interference on Holik, but a television replay showed Holik lifted Johnson's leg with his stick, then fell to make it look like a trip.
With seven seconds remaining in the penalty, Holik fired from the point. The puck deflected off the skate of Ledyard and right to Arnott, who didn't miss from the side of the net.
"It deflated us because our chemistry right now is work hard, work hard, then something happens and the air comes out of the balloon, naturally," Ledyard said.
The Lightning missed on two excellent chances.
The first came on a two-on-one at 6:47 when St. Louis passed Matthew Barnaby, who zipped a low shot that Brodeur stopped. The second came at 7:02, when Gordie Dwyer passed to St. Louis at the side of the net. No shot resulted, but St. Louis got the puck in front to Ryan Johnson. Brodeur stayed square to the play and made the save.
Arnott made it 3-0 with his 14th goal at 5:23 of the third period when he dove to poke an Elias pass past Flaherty.
Scott Gomez's slap shot to the top corner of the net at 13:26 made it 4-0. He scored again with 1:25 remaining. Sykora got his 28th goal with 1:02 left.