NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at Tampa Bay
(Thursday, October 4th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, New Jersey 1
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Vincent Lecavalier's second goal of the game, coming with 3:52 to play in regulation, was the game-winner as Tampa Bay topped New Jersey, 3-1, in the season opener for both clubs at St. Pete Times Forum.
Vaclav Prospal added a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who lost their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to New Jersey in six games a year ago.
Martin St. Louis added three helpers and Johan Holmqvist stopped 26-of-27 shots.
"It was a big game, and it felt good to win," said Holmqvist. "It's a good start but it's only one game. It was a big win for us."
Brian Gionta scored the lone goal for the Devils, who were unable to win in the NHL coaching debut of Brent Sutter. Martin Brodeur allowed two goals on 23 shots in defeat.
On the deciding goal, Lecavalier hit a wide-open net from the edge of the right circle, slamming home a cross-ice feed by Prospal.
"He's a good hockey player," said Devils forward John Madden of Lecavalier. "You don't get 52 goals for no reason. He's persistent and he comes to play."
Brodeur exited for an extra attacker with 1:17 to go, and Prospal added an empty-net clincher with 58 seconds left.
New Jersey struck on its second power-play as Zach Parise slipped a backhander towards the net on his knees and Gionta deflected it home at 9:06 of the first.
A potential second Devils goal early in the second was waved off when it was determined that winger David Clarkson was in the crease illegally.
Tampa tied the game midway through the second when Lecavalier beat Brodeur with a wrister from the right circle.
Tampa won the season series 3-1-0 last year...Sutter had been the coach and GM for the Red Deer Rebels junior club...Tampa defenseman Dan Boyle will miss the early part of the schedule after recovering from surgery to repair severed tendons in his left wrist...2000 Hobey Baker Award winner and defenseman Mike Mottau played his first game in a Devils uniform...New Jersey continues its nine-game season-opening road trip Saturday at Florida, and Tampa Bay hosts Atlanta on Saturday.
10/04 23:55:06 ET