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game recap

Lightning handle Devils in Game 1 win

Palat has three points; Hall scores in playoff debut

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Ondrej Palat had a goal and two assists for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the Lightning, the top seed in the East.

"It's Game 1, you want to win the first game," Gourde said. "That was all of our focus. It's good that it's out of the way and now it's on to Game 2."


[WATCH: All Devils vs. Lightning highlights | Complete Lightning vs. Devils series coverage]


Taylor Hall scored in his NHL playoff debut, and Keith Kinkaid made 27 saves for the Devils, who played their first postseason game since 2012.

"We [played] until the end of the game and tonight we battled and gave ourselves a chance," Hall said. "Would have loved to keep it 3-2 and give ourselves a chance with that empty net, but they're a dangerous team with depth scoring and we have to be aware of that."

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CNBC, SNE, SNO, TVAS2).

Video: NJD@TBL, Gm1: Palat stickhandles in close and scores

Travis Zajac made it 3-2 with a power-play goal off a centering pass from Hall at 9:35 of the third period after J.T. Miller took a slashing penalty.

Alex Killorn scored off a 3-on-2 to give Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead at 12:14, and Nikita Kucherov made it 5-2 with an empty-net goal at 18:48.

"I thought [Killorn-Gourde-Anthony Cirelli] were our best line," Palat said. "They were all over. Huge goal by Killorn. That line was great tonight."

Palat gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with a backhand from the slot off a pass from Johnson at 15:00 of the first period. Johnson made it 2-0 with a shot from close range off a pass from Palat at 19:31.

Video: NJD@TBL, Gm1: Johnson scores on Palat's slick pass

"We've played together a lot of games now, so we kind of know where each other is," Johnson said. "We know what we like to do with one another and a lot of those times it's not even thinking, it's just doing. I felt like that was one of those passes where we knew where each other was."

Gourde gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead on the power play, scoring his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal at 1:54 of the second period after Miles Wood was called for slashing.

"Yanni Gourde is being Yanni Gourde," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He's not afraid to go anywhere on the ice, he's just a little water bug out there. He's hard on pucks, he's quick on pucks, but the big thing is he's right around the net. I felt for him early because he had some big-time chances, that 2-on-1 he had Kinkaid out and he fanned on it, but he kept plugging away and plugging away and he got rewarded on the power-play goal."

Hall made it 3-1 when he intercepted an errant pass by Palat and shot to the stick side at 13:55.

"Our push back showed this is going to be a dogfight, and we expected them to come out with a hard push in their first game in their building," Devils center Blake Coleman said. "I think that we still have an opportunity to go home tied 1-1 and everybody in this room would take that, so we're looking to bounce back on Saturday."


Goal of the game

Gourde's goal at 1:54 of the second period.

Video: NJD@TBL, Gm1: Gourde pads lead with power-play goal


Save of the game

Vasilevskiy's save on Nico Hischier at 18:50 of the second period.

Video: NJD@TBL, Gm1: Vasilevskiy makes save on deflection


Highlight of the game

Killorn's goal at 12:14 of the third period.

Video: NJD@TBL, Gm1: Killorn converts on odd-man rush


They said it

"I thought Tampa came out real hard and we looked a little bit tentative and unsure, but I thought we settled into the game, particularly in the second period, and started playing more of our game. in the second half of the game is more how we want to play." -- Devils coach John Hynes


"The guys were ready, we had a game plan, just as they did, and their coach will probably say Tampa executed their game plan a little better in the first and we executed our game plan a little better in the second. That's going to happen, there are two teams playing against each other, when you get to playoff time, it's never that one team dominates the other, there are going to be waves, there are going to be speed bumps, it's how you weather those times." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper


Need to know

Gourde is the second Lightning rookie to score a game-winning playoff goal. Cedric Paquette did it in Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. ... Johnson scored his 22nd playoff goal, third most for the Lightning behind Martin St. Louis (33) and Vincent Lecavalier (24). ... Hall had five shots on goal and was minus-2. ... Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev got an assist on Gourde's goal in each of their NHL playoff debuts.


What's next

Game 2 of Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CNBC, SNE, SNO, TVAS2)


Video: Palat powers Lightning to 5-2 win in Game 1

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