Lightning 3, Devils 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Petr Klima’s breakaway goal late in the second period and Daren Puppa’s 28 saves led Tampa Bay to a 3-1 victory against New Jersey on Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay won consecutive games for the first time since last April 20, a span of 28 games, including 20 this season. Defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey dropped its third in a row.
Klima’s breakaway goal at 19:43 of the second period gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. Klima, who needs two more goals for 300 in his career, outraced Scott Niedermayer for a loose puck at center ice and backhanded the shot past Corey Schwab.
Chris Gratton added a power play goal at 9:24 of the third period. After Alexander Selivanov’s shot from the point was blocked, Gratton quickly backhanded the puck past Schwab.
Making his first start in the NHL, Schwab played well with 23 saves. But Puppa was solid all night, rescuing a team that had surrendered 18 goals the past four games.
Puppa kept the first period scoreless with pad saves on Scott Stevens and Petr Sykora at the 6:30 mark with Tampa Bay down a man. Puppa stopped Brian Rolston with the pads from close range late in the period as New Jersey outshot Tampa Bay 13-6.
The teams traded goals early in the second period, with Richard Persson scoring for New Jersey on the power play at 6:52. Persson’s slap shot from the blue line got by Puppa, who was screened and reacted slowly to the puck.
Brian Bradley tied it for Tampa Bay at 8:19 when his slap shot from the left wing slid through Schwab’s legs. An aggressive offensive period moved the Lightning within 19-17 in shots.
After Klima’s go-ahead score, Puppa made it stand, stopping Stephane Richer twice in succession with the pads early in the third period. Puppa protected the lead in the last five minutes when New Jersey had a two-man advantage.