After playing in so many games where the Devils have been the victims of unlucky bounces of the puck, it is about time that they were the beneficiaries of some good fortune. Behind 33 saves from Martin Brodeur in his return to the starting lineup and two goals from David Clarkson, the New Jersey Devils defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 at the Prudential Center on Sunday evening.
Bad bounces have defined the Devils season thus far, but today the Devils were the ones on the right end of the bouncing rubber biscuit. Jason Arnott scored the go-ahead goal to give the Devils a 3-2 lead in the third period after Henrik Tallinder’s shot glanced off Arnott’s thigh and past Lightning goalie Dan Ellis.
Dainius Zubrus gave the Devils a two-goal cushion after the puck bounced right to his stick off of a goal-mouth scramble. The big Lithuainian corralled the puck and slid it past Ellis to give the Devils a 4-2 advantage. Patrik Elias and Nick Palmieri each scored empty net goals, with a Tampa Bay goal by Dominic Moore sandwiched in between to round out the game’s scoring. Palmieri’s goal was the first of his NHL career.
David Clarkson was the game’s first star, and with good reason. After Teddy Purcell gave the Lightning the lead just two and a half minutes into the game, Clarkson responded with a beautiful forehand-to-backhand move on a breakaway goal. Although Ryan Malone’s power-play goal gave Tampa Bay the lead heading into the first intermission, it was Clarkson who brought the Devils back even again.
With the Devils on a power-play of their own, Clarkson unleashed a laser from above the right circle that beat Ellis on his glove side. Clarkson’s quick responses to the Lightning goals was crucial for a Devils team that has had serious trouble overcoming deficits both big and small.
With the victory the Devils put an end to their four game losing skid. The six-goal outburst was the first time in 21 games that the Devils registered more than three goals. In a season full of struggles and hardships, the Devils need to take away any and all moral victories from each win, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
After the Devils past two losses to the Flyers, coach Jacques Lemaire said that he saw positive things from his team. Perhaps tonight’s contest against the Lightning was the culmination of putting all the positives together and eliminating some of the negatives. Whatever way you look at it, it was a step in the right direction for a struggling hockey team. The Devils are a team that needs to develop some confidence, and getting a win against a top-tier club like the Lightning is certainly a good start. Let’s just hope they can take this step forward without taking two steps back like they have done on numerous occasions this season.
About the Author
Written by Matt Pellicane
I am currently pursuing a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. I graduated from Quinnipiac in May 2010 with a bachelor's degree in print journalism. While at Quinnipiac, I covered various sporting events on campus for the online newspaper The Quad News. I was born and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey and have been an avid sports fan all of my life. I am a fan of the New Jersey Devils, New York Giants, New York Yankees, and the Boston Celtics.