TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - One thing never changes about the NHL playoffs. Teams that dwell on missed opportunities following a loss only hinder their chances of rebounding in the next game.
So when New Jersey takes the ice Monday night for Game 3 of its first-round Eastern Conference series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur says he and his teammates need to have short memories.
"You have to," Brodeur said Sunday, reflecting on a 3-2 defeat Saturday that kept the Devils from taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven matchup.
"These first two games, we won one. So it's a best out of five now. It's not a bad situation to be in," the three-time Stanley Cup champion added. "We've got to go out and battle ... minimize our mistakes, try to keep it as simple as possible. It's a brand new series now."
The Lightning rallied for Saturday's win, with goalie Johan Holmqvist recovering from a poor performance in Game 1 to make 34 saves and stars Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier delivering goals after coach John Tortorella split the high-scoring tandem onto different lines.
Reunited on a line with centre Brad Richards, St. Louis erased a 2-1 deficit in the final minute of the second period. Lecavalier, the NHL's leading goal scorer this season, snapped the tie early in the third.
"We knew (the Lightning) were gifted offensively, and I think they exposed us a little bit scoring six goals in the two games," Brodeur said.
"We've just got to go back and work hard, and have the attitude that we're going to shut them down. It's going to be a long series. We expected something hard against these guys. A lot of character. A lot of experience. We're just going to battle through it."
Tortorella played down the significance of switching St. Louis and Lecavalier to different lines, stressing that players - not adjustments - dictate how a series unfolds in the playoffs.
The coach was coy about his plans for the Lightning stars in Game 3.
"I don't know," he said. "And I wouldn't tell you if I did."
New Jersey coach Lou Lamoriello, meanwhile, said the Devils simply need to play better. He added that there were no immediate plans to make changes to John Madden's checking line if St. Louis and Lecavalier are split again Monday night.
"Whether they are together or they're split, they're two players you have to be aware of and watch," Lamoriello said, adding that it's not the first time Tampa Bay has split its stars against the Devils. "They're exceptional players. We know that. But we have a couple, too."
That's why the Lightning scoffed at the suggestion that winning one of the first two games on the road gives Tampa Bay the upper hand in the series because the next two will be played on home ice.
"You just don't know," Richards said "They have a great goalie over there that can steal games. We're not going to get over confident. We're going to be very humble and respectful of what they can do. We know it's going to get tougher."