The Devils got out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals by Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, but ultimately lost 3-2 to the Lightning Saturday night at Amalie Arena. Here's what we learned:
1) The Devils came out flying in the first period determined to get the puck on net and they were rewarded with two quick goals for an early 2-0 lead. They had 13 shots that period with all signs pointing in the right direction, but then Tampa pushed back in the 2nd to tie the game at two and the Devils were on their heels mustering only nine shots with four coming on one power play, not including a PPG that was called back because Mike Cammalleri was offsides by an inch. In the third, Tampa pushed back even harder to take the 3-2 lead and again the Devils couldn't get much of anything going offensively until they got a power play late in the period and then pulled Cory Schneider for the extra attacker. They had four shots on goal in the first 14 minutes of the third and eight in the final six. The lesson here: Don't take your foot off the gas.
2) The good news is the power play is showing signs of life. The first opportunity was a dud, but they had four shots on the second one and four more on the third. As I mentioned, they did end up scoring in the final seconds of their second opportunity. It was disallowed for being (barely) offsides 15 seconds earlier, but at least they know it's possible.
3) Despite the loss, there are positives they can take out of this game -- being more competitive on the puck, maintaining more possession, sustained offensive pressure, more shots on net and, overall, a better performance than on Thursday against Florida -- but, there is still work to be done before the Devils can solidify themselves as a playoff contender.
The Devils have the day off on Sunday and will put their work boots back on for practice on Monday before hosting the Ducks at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the first game of the season at Prudential Center. Fan Fest and Red Carpet festivities for the home opener start at 3:30 p.m. on Championship Plaza.