NEWARK, N.J. — There were 5 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third period of the Lightning's game with the Devils on Satur
That was a perfect time, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper decided, to pull goaltender Anders Lindback for an extra skater.
"Well, we were down three," Cooper said. "Whether you're going to lose 4-0, 5-0, 6-0, it's still a loss. Who knows? You get one, maybe you put them on their heels, and maybe you get another one."
In the end, the proactive maneuver reaped nothing as Tampa Bay fell 3-0 to run its road losing streak to 0-5-2.
"It's a hard league," captain Marty St. Louis said. "You get down, you make a mistake here or there, and they capitalize."
It didn't help that Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was at his best, stopping 33 shots for his third shutout of the season and 124th of his career, extending his league record.
The thing is, Cooper said the Lightning (18-11-3) played a fairly good game overall. Consider the 19 shots it allowed were a season low, and St. Louis said Tampa Bay played patiently against a defense-first opponent.
And it wasn't as if Brodeur wasn't tested. His glove save on St. Louis' wrist shot from the slot 5:45 into the second period preserved a 0-0 tie.
"I was kind of offbalance," St. Louis said. "I wasn't locked and loaded, and I didn't get a lot of wood on it. He still made a good save, though."
"There's a reason he's going to pass go and go right to the Hall of Fame," Cooper said. "He made those saves early and a bunch in the second period that kept his team with the lead."
But there also was this: The Lightning was 0-for-3 on the power play and looked bad on it with just three shots. And the team made what Cooper called "some colossal errors that cost us."
The worst was a bad change by Pierre-Cedric Labrie that left a gaping hole down the middle of the ice. Add poor positioning by defensemen Radko Gudas and Matt Carle, and the Devils' Damien Brunner had a clear path from the blue line to Lindback.
A great backhand-to-forehand move later and the score was 1-0 with 4:23 left in the second.
"We've got to have better position, even if it's a bad change," Gudas said. "A guy that splits us like this, that can't happen."
Dainius Zubrus scored twice in the third period off feeds from Jaromir Jagr, the first after Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer made a back pass behind his net to seemingly no one. At that point, why not pull Lindback?
"Probably the right move," he said. "We were down 3-0."
At least it didn't get worse.
First Period—None. Penalties—Elias, NJ (hooking), 6:15; Tyrell, TB (tripping), 14:55.
Second Period—1, New Jersey, Brunner 7 (Gelinas, Fayne), 15:37. Penalties—Carle, TB (closing hand on puck), 7:36; Zubrus, NJ (elbowing), 11:51; Brunner, NJ (high-sticking), 18:31.
Third Period—2, New Jersey, Zubrus 6 (Jagr), 6:44. 3, New Jersey, Zubrus 7 (Jagr, Zidlicky), 9:36. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 6-14-13—33. New Jersey 7-5-7—19. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 3; New Jersey 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Lindback 2-6-1 (19 shots-16 saves). New Jersey, Brodeur 9-8-2 (33-33).