The New Jersey Devils coming into tonights game have won 8 of the last 9 games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road and were looking for a big win to help gain ground in the playoff seeding.
Jon Cooper was also making his NHL coaching debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning in tonights game.
Bryce Salvador and Alexei Ponikarovsky both returned from injuries.
The Devils looked rather flat in the first, coming out slow and were unable to put anything in the net in the period.
Their powerplay which came into this game struggling, continued to struggled in the first. On their only powerplay attempt of the period, they looked rather confused and were unable to generate much of an attack against Tampa Bay.
The penalty kill stepped up and was able to kill of the Mark Fayne tripping call mid-way through the first period.
During the commercial timeout following the penalty, Tom Kostopoulos dropped the gloves with Radko Gudas and both received five for fighting.
Patrik Elias came close to scoring, but his slapshot rang of the post and was redirected out of play.
Martin Brodeur had to make a couple of huge saves which included stoning Victor Hedman at the corner post on a rebound off the glass.
Heading into the first intermission, the Devils lead in shots 7-5.
The Devils came out with a surge early in the second as they scored two goals in the span of :51 seconds.
Andrei Loktionov got the scoring started as he sniped a shot past the goaltender Garon giving the Devils the early 1-0 lead.
That was Andrei Loktionov's 7th goal of the season.
Tom Kostopoulos was awarded a penalty shot on a Victor Hedman hooking call. He was able to wrist the shot past the goalie's blocker and gave New Jersey the 2-0 lead.
That was Tom Kostopoulos's first goal and first point as a member of the New Jersey Devils.
The lead wouldn't last as Tampa Bay responded quickly and furiously.
Steve Stamkos was able to find the opening of the net and wrist his 25th goal of the season cutting the deficit in half.
On a New Jersey Devils defenseman breakdown, Nate Thompson was able to beat out the two Devils defenseman and slip the puck up and over Martin Brodeur to tie the game at two.
The Devils scored on the POWERPLAY?!
You read that correctly, the New Jersey Devils scored on the powerplay. Andy Greene from the point wristed and laser which scorched the back of the net giving New Jersey back the lead 3-2.
With the Andy Greene goal, Matt D'Agostini collected another assist, giving him two on the game.
Moments after the goal, Steve Bernier had a breakaway attempt but was hooked multiple times and drew another Tampa Bay Lightning penalty.
The play definitely picked up and the third period was surely not going to disappoint.
But, I spoke too soon.
Ryan Carter on the penalty kill was able to wrist a shot passed Garon giving the Devils a 4-2 lead which seemed to be enough to earn the two points.
The Devils now have nine shorthanded goals on the year which is tops in the league.
Steven Stamkos would score again just minutes later, pulling Tampa Bay back to within one goal. With his two goals tonight, Stamkos now has 26 goals on the year which leads all NHL scorers.
The Devils seemed to have this game wrapped up but with 15 seconds to go in the game, Alex Killorn was able to tie the game for Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay had some nifty passing which set up Killorn to a wide open net and he buried it.
The game would head to OT.
In the overtime, the Devils were just dominated and were lucky to escape the overtime without giving up the game winning goal.
The Devils PK stepped up and was able to kill off a HUGE penalty to preserve the tie and send the game into the shootout.
In the shootout, the Devils continued to struggle. Purcell and Headman would score for Tampa Bay and that's all they would need. New Jersey came up blank as Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias were stopped and Tampa Bay received the full two points.
This game is going to be a tough one to swallow considering the Devils played well enough to win, but were unable to hold leads and ultimately led to their downfall. Hopefully New Jersey has a short memory and get ready for Florida tomorrow night.