NEWARK, N.J. — There were two ways for the Lightning to look at Wednesday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center.
First, the glass-half-full option:
Tampa Bay, which entered the game tied for the league's worst power play, scored twice with the extra man in the third period to erase two one-goal deficits.
Then there is the half-empty option: The team was outshot 38-27, including 16-7 in the second period, when it gave up two goals in two minutes, 39 seconds to lose a 1-0 lead.
Even the postgame commentary was half-and-half as Tampa Bay (4-3-4) failed to win for the first time in four games but salvaged a point for the regulation tie.
"This game wasn't as good as the ones we played previous, but we got a point, and you're never going to look a gift horse in the mouth," coach Barry Melrose said.
And there was no overlooking some fine contributions.
Center Jussi Jokinen scored twice. Left wing Mark Recchi had two assists, and right wing Marty St. Louis' goal with 3:20 left in the third period, his second of the season and first in 10 games, tied the score 3-3.
That came 90 seconds after Jay Pandolfo scored to give New Jersey the lead and 5:48 after Jokinen scored his fourth goal of the season to tie the score 2-2.
Even that would not have been enough had not goalie Mike Smith stopped Mike Mottau from in-close with a leg save with one second left in regulation.
Good stuff, but you couldn't shake the feeling Tampa Bay should have had more.
"We just have to get more out of our forwards," Melrose said. "More shots, more attacking."
The Lightning attacked in the first period and had a 1-0 lead. But when New Jersey's offense heated up in the second, Tampa Bay did not answer.
Part of that was the Devils' aggressive forecheck, which applied pressure and protected goalie Kevin Weekes, the new No. 1 with Martin Brodeur out because of elbow surgery.
"That's the type of game they play," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "They play a very boring game. They wait for you to make mistakes."
But fault Tampa Bay for forgetting the basics, such as getting the puck to the net.
"We have to play much simpler, and we didn't skate as much as we should have," Lecavalier said. "We need to skate and play in the zone as much as possible and make them turn over the puck."
That is what happened when Mike Lundin's defensive-zone giveaway turned into Pandolfo's goal.
Despite it all, the Lightning had a chance to pick up the extra point. But Weekes, a former Lightning, stopped Jokinen and Vinny Prospal in the shootout, and New Jersey beat Smith twice, both on dekes to his glove side.
It is the kind of fine line Tampa Bay has walked all season. Nine of its 11 games have been decided by one goal, with the Lightning going 3-6. In six games that have gone to overtime or a shootout, Tampa Bay is 2-4, including 1-2 in shootouts.
"We have to win more of those one-goal games," Jokinen said. "All those overtime and shootout games can make the difference if you are going to make the playoffs."
|Devils win shootout 2-1|
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Jokinen 3 (Recchi, Artyukhin), 16:28. Penalties—None.
Second Period—2, New Jersey, Clarkson 3 (Zubrus, White), 16:05. 3, New Jersey, Elias 4 (Zubrus, Gionta), 18:44 (pp). Penalties—Roberts, TB (elbowing), 10:35; Jokinen, TB (high-sticking), 18:02.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Jokinen 4 (Meszaros, Recchi), 10:52 (pp). 5, New Jersey, Pandolfo 2 (Madden, Elias), 15:10. 6, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 2 (Lecavalier, Ranger), 16:40 (pp). Penalties—Madden, NJ (hooking), 1:56; Vrana, NJ (slashing), 9:28; Brookbank, NJ (delay of game), 15:28.
Shootout—Tampa Bay 1 (Lecavalier G, Jokinen NG, Prospal NG), New Jersey 2 (Parise NG, Elias G, Langenbrunner G). Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-7-7-4—27. New Jersey 8-16-10-4—38. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 2 of 3; New Jersey 1 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, M.Smith 3-2-3 (38 shots-35 saves). New Jersey, Weekes 1-1-0 (27-24). A—11,619 (17,625).