For the past two decades, the New Jersey Devils have had success by playing a certain way. They bottle up teams in the neutral zone and counter once they force turnovers. It’s frustrating to face them. New Jersey’s opponents must play a patient game, but at the same time look to be aggressive when they have a chance to attack.
Outside of the first half of the first period, the Devils were their usual tight-checking selves on Tuesday. But during those opening 10 minutes or so, the Lightning generated lots of dangerous scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Bolts, New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider was sharp – and kept the game scoreless. He also benefitted from a close call on video review Nikita Kucherov’s stuff-in attempt was ruled no-goal on the ice and, even though it looked as though it might have gone in, was not overturned on review.
Then, from the halfway point of the first, the Devils settled into their system and the Lightning had much more difficulty maneuvering through the neutral zone. Perhaps had they potted a goal early on, the complexion of the game might have changed. Instead, the visitors grabbed a 1-0 lead following consecutive saves by Evgeni Nabokov – Travis Zajac converted on the third chance, though, after he jumped on a loose puck in front. New Jersey carried that advantage into the third.
The most important sequence in the game came after Alex Killorn tied the score. Tyler Johnson forced a bouncing puck past New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador, creating a two-on-one down low, and he fed Killorn for the tying goal. But on the very next shift, the Devils applied heavy pressure in the Lightning end and drew a penalty. They would convert on that man advantage, scoring the eventual game-winner.
As compared to their performance on Monday against Montreal, the Lightning were not as crisp in this game. But they battled hard against a disciplined opponent and fought to tie the score in the third period. And once again, as they’ve done in every game so far this year, the Bolts held the opponent to two goals or less through regulation and/or overtime.
The homestand ends with the Lightning having earned five out of eight points. Not bad. Now they’ll look to do some damage on the tough five-game road trip, which begins Saturday in Vancouver.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Mike Cammalleri’s game-winning goal on the power play
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Cory Schneider – Devils. 26 saves.
2.Evgeni Nabokov – Lightning. 23 saves.
3.Mike Cammalleri – Devils. GWG.