|Jay Pandolfo recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 on Wednesday night.
Pandolfo had the first three-goal game of his NHL career on Wednesday night to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Long-time linemate John Madden scored once and set up all three of Pandolfo’s goals as the Devils won for the first time at the Prudential Center after losing the first game in their new home to Ottawa on Saturday night.
Madden and Pandolfo scored in a 1:48 span early in the second period to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Madden opened the scoring at 4:32, converting a centering feed from Dainius Zubrus. Pandolfo and Madden then outhustled the Lightning defense to create a two-on-none break, with Madden sliding the puck past helpless goaltender Johan Holmqvist.
After Vincent Lecavalier got Tampa Bay’s only goal on a power play with 1:47 left in the second period, the Devils put the game away in the third as Pandolfo scored twice and Arron Asham and Zach Parise added a goal each.
“I thought our focus at the start of the third was very good,” coach Brent Sutter said. “We were resilient in our approach today as far as how we wanted to play."
After scoring just four goals during a four-game losing streak, the Devils relieved the mounting pressure with their offensive breakout.
"It's nice to get confidence," said Pandolfo, whose six goals are nearly half of his career-high of 14. "We've obviously struggled this year. If we can keep doing that, and gain some confidence by scoring goals at home, it will be fun.”
The Devils came into the game with a 3-6-1 record, including the arena-opening loss four nights earlier. They’ve looked little like the team that’s been among the NHL’s elite for more than a decade.
“We’ve struggled in our own zone,” Madden said. “We paid more attention to detail tonight. We came out ready to play and stuck to our game plan.”
The Lightning continues to be a Jekyll-and-Hyde team – they’re unbeaten in regulation play at home at 5-0-1, but are 0-5-0 away from the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa Bay concludes a three-game swing through the New York area with a game on Long Island Thursday night.
“It’s really frustrating,” Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said of the Bolts’ inability to win on the road. “It deflates you. We’re saying the same things over and over. We've got to be sharper. We're trying to find a way to win a game on the road.”
After ripping his team following a 3-1 loss to the Rangers in New York on Monday, Lightning coach John Tortorella was much calmer.
“While we're trying to generate offense, we're forgetting about defense,” he said. “It’s got to be the other way around. We’ve got to just play a good, solid defensive game and then, I think our offense will come back to us.”
Panthers 4, Hurricanes 2 | Video
|The Florida Panthers scored four times in the final period en route to a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Panthers trailed 1-0 before they got an unscheduled visit from their former teammate between the second and third periods. Whatever the career 500-goal scorer said must have had an effect – Florida had its best offensive period of the season to overtake Carolina. Olli Jokinen had a goal and two assists as Florida scored four times in the third period to beat their Southeast Division rival.
“Joe has played a lot of years in this League and he has a lot of passion,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said of Nieuwendyk’s impromptu visit. “I think he delivered an important message to our guys.”
Jokinen tied the game 7:27 into the third period, but Carolina went back in front at 11:35 on Eric Cole’s goal. However, Jokinen set up defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s slap shot that beat Cam Ward at 14:11 to tie the game and sent Richard Zednik in alone for a breakaway goal during a 5-on-3 power play with 2:19 remaining in regulation that put the Panthers ahead to stay.
“I just tried to get him to go down and shoot it up high,” Zednik said. “Luckily he did that and I was able to score. It’s a big win for us and now we’ve got to go do it on the road.”
Nathan Horton scored with 37 seconds left before Carolina could pull Ward.
“We battled hard in the third period,” Jokinen said. “It’s a big two points for us. We won all the battles at the end there. That’s what we needed.”
The Hurricanes took seven of their eight penalties in the third period. Two of the penalties were for diving, including one against Justin Williams at 13:13 when he was held by Horton. Instead of a Carolina power play, both players were sent off and Bouwmeester scored during the resulting 4-on-4.
“I'm at a loss for words,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “That's the power of the print. I don't know what to say ... it started the whole unraveling. I have no idea why there was a diving penalty. I'd like to get an explanation.”
Blue Jackets 4, Kings 1
|Blue Jackets left wing Fredrik Modin and Kings defenseman Rob Blake battle for the puck during Columbus's 4-1 victory over Los Angeles.
Columbus’ best start in franchise history continued as Pascal Leclaire stopped 33 shots and
Jason Chimera scored twice to lead the Blue Jackets to their fourth straight win – and end the Kings’ four-game winning streak.
Leclaire is finally living up to his selection as the No. 8 overall pick in 2001. He improved to 6-2-0 and has a League-best 1.25 goals-against average as the Blue Jackets improved to 7-3-1 and ended a five-game losing streak at Staples Center.
“I thought this was one of his best games,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “When you’re playing a team like this, you need your goalie to be your best player, and tonight, he was our best player.”
Kyle Calder’s power-play goal on a rebound midway through the second period was the only shot to beat Leclaire. The goal ended a streak of 18 straight kills by the Blue Jackets, who entered the night as the NHL’s top penalty-killing unit and have allowed just four power-play goals this season.
“Their penalty-killers do all the small things right, and they’ve got a good goalie back there,” Kings defenseman Jack Johnson said.
Chimera opened the scoring 16.29 into the game, converting a give-and-go with Manny Malholtra. After Gilbert Brule scored at 3:21 of the second period, Chimera made it 3-0 at 7:14 when he banged in Rick Nash’s rebound.
“When you score early, sometimes the bounces go your way,” Chimera said. “The puck was just laying there and the net was wide open.”
Calder’s goal cut the Kings’ deficit to two, and they had a big chance to get closer with a two-man advantage for 1:39 later in the period. But Leclaire made a handful of saves to keep the lead at 3-1.
“He made three or four big saves during the 5-on-3,” Chimera said of Leclaire. “That seemed to turn the game. He also made some big stops in the third period. He’s confident – he’s been hurt in the past and he’s looking to show people what he can do.”
The Kings carried the play in the third period but couldn’t beat Leclaire again before Nash hit the empty net with 18 seconds left in the game for the final margin.
“There’s no reason to panic,” Johnson said after the Kings’ winning streak ended. “It wasn’t like there was a lack of effort. We just got a couple of bad bounces.”
Material from wire services, team Web sites and broadcast media was used in this report.