How Tampa Bay turned a game on the brink into a Game 1 victory

A rush by New Jersey Devils right wing Michael Grabner (40) is shut down by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the third period of Thursday's game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New Jersey Devils in game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
A rush by New Jersey Devils right wing Michael Grabner (40) is shut down by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the third period of Thursday's game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New Jersey Devils in game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Published April 12
Updated April 13

TAMPA – The Devils scored a power-play goal midway through the third period Thursday night, and suddenly the Lightning's three-goal lead was down to one.

"Which way is it going to go?" coach Jon Cooper said when talking about the momentum.

It went to the Lightning.

Alex Killorn scored three minutes later for an insurance goal and Nikita Kucherov added an empty-net goal and the Lightning had  5-2 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

"You got to give Jersey credit. They pushed in that second period. I thought we were able to hold it and in that third period I thought we took it back over," Tyler Johnson said. "If we continue with the emotion and how we played in that game, I like our chances in this series."

Johnson had a goal and assist in the first period as the Lightning controlled the first 20 minutes. But Jersey picked up momentum during a second-period power play and used it to score three minutes later when Taylor Hall intercepted a clearing pass in front of the Lightning net and shot the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The third-period goal by Travis Zajac was just one of five shots Jersey had in the period, which was one reason the Lightning felt it was still in control.

The other was Vasilevskiy, who finished with 29 saves.

"Like the whole season he was unreal," Ondrej Palat said. "We're pretty confident when he's back there."

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