While our fellow writers, Devin Mattera and Scott Robb, were in attendance tonight, I was running errands but made sure to catch up with this game on the radio. After the 2nd intermission, I was able to watch the game on TV. Regardless of the way I followed this game, I have to say, I was very impressed by the way the New Jersey Devils handled the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. They’ve certainly got the momentum going their way.
I have to say, from the time the puck dropped, the Devils were controlling the play. They played a fast-paced game and I noticed every forward contributing to a scoring chance (minus Krys Barch). From what I was hearing on the radio, Stefan Matteau had a great chance to put the Devils up but unfortunately, Tampa goalie Anders Lindback made what appeared to be, a spectacular save. Though they headed to the 2nd intermission scoreless, I felt that New Jersey would break the scoring soon. Indeed that’s what happened in early in the 2nd period. Anton Volchenkov fired the puck like a bullet towards Linback. Because the shot was so strong, Adam Henrique found the rebound and put it in the net. I’m tellin ya – Henrique has been on fire since his return and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop any time soon. The Devils caught a bad break 10 minutes after the Henrique goal, when Lightning forward Nate Thompson made a great shot that beat Marty Brodeur high. When the Devils started taking penalties, Tampa had a great chance to take the lead but instead, it went the other way. Ilya Kovalchuk blocked a pass and took the puck into the Lightning’s zone, ever so slowly. That patience opened up a shooting lane for Kovy, and he took it. The puck beat Lindback near his glove. Kovalchuk’s late shorthanded goal gave NJ a 2-1 lead heading into the 2nd intermission. The third period was a bit concerning for me as Tampa created many chances and the Devils didn’t have a shot on goal for half of the period. The fun really started with about 6:30 to go in the game, when the Lightning got into some serious penalty trouble. When the Devils were on the regular power play, Tampa forward Adam Hall made a big mistake by taking a high-sticking penalty. Apparently that coach pissed off Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who was given a penalty as well. Two 5-on-3s for New Jersey and what better a time to get those calls go our way? Andy Greene cashed in on the first one, beating Lindback similarly to how Henrik Tallinder beat Evgeni Nabakov last week. 14 seconds later, Elias confused Lindback with his filthy puck-handling skills at the side of the net. When Elias saw the opening, he shot it and sure enough, it went for a goal. New Jersey was certainly cruising on to victory with a 4-1 lead but Tampa defenseman Matt Carle scored with about 2 minutes to go to make it a 2 goal game. The Devils had a million chances to get the empty netter but for some reason couldn’t get one. Nonetheless, Devils over the Lightning 4-2! The winning streak has now reached 3 straight games! Unfortunately the Pittsburgh Penguins embarrassed the Washington Capitals so the Atlantic Division lead still belongs to the Pens, but that can change on Saturday. Bring on the Penguins (and a snowstorm)! The puck drops in Prudential Center at 1 P.M.