NEWARK, N.J. — It is always interesting what can affect a game: a loose stick, a stick that breaks at a bad time, poor judgment on a line change.
Oh, and the unexpected appearance of the game's greatest goalie.
All came into play in the Lightning's 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Friday night at the Prudential Center.
Still, considering the circumstances, coach Rick Tocchet was pleased his players battled against a desperate team that broke a six-game losing streak with Zach Parise's 43rd goal 1:21 into the extra period.
"It was one of the better games in about a month where we battled," Tocchet said. "It was nice to see. Teams win, not individuals. This was the best we've played as a team in a long time."
There was plenty to note individually as Tampa Bay (24-36-18) lost its fifth straight and ninth in 10. Center Steven Stamkos notched his 21st goal to tie Brad Richards' team rookie mark. Wing Martins Karsums got his first NHL goal with 5:54 left in the third to tie the score 4-4.
Add Ryan Malone's third-period breakaway goal that made the score 3-3, and Tampa Bay overcame two one-goal deficits.
But this is the Bizarro Lightning world. How else to explain Devils goalie Kevin Weekes going down 57 seconds into the second period? Martin Brodeur was supposed to get the night off after being honored for being the NHL's winningest goalie. Instead, he needed only seven saves on 10 shots, as Tampa Bay was outshot 39-22 overall, to gain win 554.
How else to explain Lightning goalie Karri Ramo losing his grip on his stick as he reached for a puck that deflected off the side glass and seemed to be headed for the net? Ramo, out to play the rim around the glass, said he lost his grip: "I tried to reach as far as I could. I tied to hold on with my fingertips."
The thrown stick meant a penalty shot Brendan Shanahan converted. That began a three-goal assault in 5:24 that gave New Jersey a 3-2 second-period lead.
And how to explain the stick of defenseman Matt Smaby breaking as he tried to pass? That began a sequence that ended with Parise's overtime goal, helped by a poor Tampa Bay change when it cleared the puck from the defensive zone. "I thought the puck was deeper than it was," defenseman Matt Lashoff said.
Tampa Bay fell to 5-18 in overtime. "We've got a long way to go," Tocchet said. "But we were more on the team side than we have in a long time."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Artyukhin 6 (Melichar), 1:38. Penalties—Madden, NJ (boarding), 11:37; Craig, TB, major (fighting), 17:48; Clarkson, NJ, major (fighting), 17:48.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 21 (St. Louis, Lashoff), 5:09 (pp). 3, New Jersey, Shanahan 6 (penalty shot), 13:05. 4, New Jersey, Pandolfo 5 (Langenbrunner, Oduya), 14:50. 5, New Jersey, Langenbrunner 26 (Rolston, Parise), 18:29 (pp). Penalties—Langenbrunner, NJ (holding), 4:35; Smaby, TB (cross-checking), 7:37; Halpern, TB, double minor (roughing), 10:52; Holik, NJ (goaltender interference), 10:52; Artyukhin, TB (hooking), 16:57.
Third Period—6, Tampa Bay, Malone 26, 2:41. 7, New Jersey, Langenbrunner 27 (Zajac, Parise), 10:35. 8, Tampa Bay, Karsums 1 (Pettinger, Krajicek), 14:06. Penalties—None.
Overtime—9, New Jersey, Parise 43 (Zajac, Martin), 1:21. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 11-5-5-1—22. New Jersey 10-13-14-2—39. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 2; New Jersey 1 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Ramo 4-8-7 (39 shots-34 saves). New Jersey, Weekes (12-11), Brodeur 16-8-3 (0:57 second, 10-7). A—17,625 (17,625).