Devils lose second straight to Bolts
Posted 17 April 2007 - 06:32 AM
Devils lose second straight to Bolts
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
By TOM GULITTI
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur hangs his head after giving up a third-period goal to Tampa Bay Lightning's Vaclav Prospal during the Devils' 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay in the NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal hockey game in Tampa, Fla.
TAMPA, Fla. -- While the Devils keep talking about bad luck, Vincent Lecavalier and the Tampa Bay Lightning keep finding ways to beat them.
Lecavalier and Johan Holmqvist left the Devils shaking their heads again Monday night. Lecavalier scored Tampa Bay's first goal and set up Vinny Prospal's winner to lead the Lightning to a 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Prospal snapped a tie at 2 with 6:29 remaining by deflecting Lecavalier's hard pass from the right circle past goaltender Martin Brodeur's right arm.
"They're getting some good bounces right now," Devils left wing Jay Pandolfo said. "They're hot and they've got confidence. Every little mistake and it's in our net."
Holmqvist again looked shaky, but the Lightning's goaltender still made 30 saves as his team seized a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 coming up Wednesday night here.
Key to Game 3
The Devils were unable to capitalize on the many rebounds Lightning goaltender Johan Holmqvist left, and Martin Brodeur gave up another soft goal.
* * *
3 stars of Game 3
1. Vincent Lecavalier
Scored Tampa Bay's first goal and set up the winner.
2. Vinny Prospal
Deflection snapped 2-2 tie with 6:29 remaining.
3. Martin St. Louis
Assisted on all three Tampa Bay goals.
As vulnerable as Holmqvist has looked, so has Brodeur. He allowed another questionable goal on a bad-angle shot from Lecavalier to open the scoring 9:06 into the game and doesn't appear comfortable stopping the puck.
He tried to remain optimistic, though,
"I've got to stay positive about my game," Brodeur said. "A lot of people will always be on my case because of that, but I know what I can do and what I'm going to try to do better. I feel this is my responsibility to be better. Regardless of luck or [no] luck, I've got to come through for these guys."
If anyone has good luck, it's Lecavalier. He has four goals and an assist in the series. His on-and-off-again linemate, Martin St. Louis, had another big night, assisting all three Tampa Bay goals. Brad Richards also scored for the Lightning and added an assist.
"It's going well. Things are going in," Lecavalier said. "In the playoffs, that's really important. Everybody has been playing well, playing their style and it's been paying off."
Meanwhile, the Devils are turning Holmqvist into Cam Ward, the Carolina goaltender who frustrated them in last year's playoffs despite giving up a similar amount of juicy rebounds. They scored only two goals on Holmqvist in losing each of the last two games after getting five in Game 1.
"We've got to find a way to get it by him," right wing Brian Gionta said. "Right now, we're getting some shots, but we can't be happy with that. We've got to find a way to score."
The Devils started the game at a disadvantage defensively with Colin White, who always plays against the opposition's top line, missing the game with a stiff back. Still, they held the Lightning to only five shots in the first period.
They fell behind anyway when Lecavalier surprised Brodeur by firing a quick shot from the bottom of the right circle that somehow found an opening between the goalie's skates for a power-play goal.
"He shot it wide," Brodeur said. "It hit the side of the net and it went off my skate in. A quarter of an inch somewhere else and it just pops up. It's just bad luck."
John Madden tied it on a backhand from the right circle with 2:33 left in the second period, but Richards gave Tampa Bay the lead again by finishing a St. Louis feed 1:09 into third. Brodeur said he thought Richards fanned on his shot, causing it to flutter past him on the stick side.
If that was a bad break, the Devils got a good one when Zach Parise's pass, intended for Travis Zajac in front, went in off Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle for the tying goal at 4:46.
"You're hoping it's the break you're looking for," Parise said.
But that only set it up for Lecavalier to work some more magic.
"He and St. Louis are hot," Pandolfo said. "Richards is hot. They're all hot. We've just got to keep going. We're only down 2-1. We've got a chance to come back here on Wednesday and tie the series up and then we get home ice again."
Posted 17 April 2007 - 09:09 AM
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