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Lightning need Johnson’s OT goal to fend off New Jersey in wild affair

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered Wednesday’s contest against the New Jersey Devils hoping to shed the previous night’s demons after a disheartening loss to the New York Rangers. The Lightning wanted to come out fast and fearless after losing two players due to injury in that 4-1 loss to the Rangers. That would force the Lightning to call up three players from the Syrcause Crunch for the second half of a back-to-back.

Old ways continue to haunt the Lightning

The Lightning have sought to change their old ways, most notably not taking so many penalties. However, just 33 seconds into the game, Kevin Shattenkirk took a delay of game penalty, sending New Jersey to an early power play. The Devils would soon capitalize on the and took an early lead to start the game. Shortly after the goal, the Bolts had a pep in their step. They got off to a 6-2 shot advantage and looked to capitalize to tie the game.

Steven Stamkos, sitting at 398 career goals, had two great chances, but Cory Schneider stopped him twice. The Lightning would be penalized once again on a Jan Rutta boarding call. The Bolts would hold off New Jersey’s power play units as goalie Curtis McElhinney stood tall. The Bolts ended up committing three penalties in the first period. Despite this, the Lightning did gain confidence as they scored two goals in the first, one from Ondrej Palat and one from Alex Killorn to take a 2-1 lead going into the locker room.

Defensive miscues cause shift of momentum for New Jersey

Going into the second period, Tampa sought to build off their one-goal lead. However, New Jersey would take the Bolts momentum and steal it all for themselves as the Lightning continued to struggle with discipline and the Devils would capitalize, tying it 2-2. Brayden Point wouldn’t stand for that as he would soon knock a rebound home to help the Bolts regain the lead. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the Devils just poured on the shots, scoring two straight goals as the Lightning went into the locker room down 4-3 with 20 minutes left to play.

Comeback triggers wild third period

Going into the third period, the Lightning had to think of a way to come back against a Devils team desperate for a win. New Jersey soon picked up where they left off after Sami Vatanen scored to extend the Devils’ lead to 5-3.

Soon enough, the Bolts would turn to what they did well all of last season: come back in a game against a team they know they could beat.

Tampa rallied off three straight goals from Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph and Palat, handing the Lightning a 6-5 lead. With Schneider on the bench with a minute left, Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh would ice the puck twice in the final minute, keeping a tired group of Tampa players out there.

The Devils would soon take advantage, as Kyle Palmeiri scored his third goal of the game, tying it 6-6 with 7.4 seconds remaining in the third period.

Lightning strikes in overtime

In overtime, it was anyone’s game. Both teams were desperate for the win, searching for that extra point in the standings. Tyler Johnson provided the overtime winner after Palat fed him with a pass all alone out in front of the net after Schneider made an amazing stop on McDonagh.

Our Three Stars of the Game

1.  Kyle Palmeiri – Scored a hat trick and was the offensive spark for New Jersey.

2. Curtis McElhinney – Despite giving up 6 goals, McElhinney made clutch saves to keep the Bolts in the game.

3. Ondrej Palat – Scored two goals, including the first goal of the game for Tampa and the tie-breaking goal in the third period.

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