By Dory LeBlanc
The Lightning avoided a season sweep by the Devils Saturday night, defeating New Jersey in shutout fashion at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
After 32 scoreless minutes of hockey, Tampa Bay finally broke through the wall of future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur who was going for his 40th career win over the Lightning in net.
Valtteri Filppula started the offensive play which led to the first Lightning goal after showing fantastic stick work to get the puck to defenseman Mike Kostka, who took a slapshot from the point that was deflected by B.J. Crombeen in front of the crease to get past the 20-plus year goalie.
Kostka, who was claimed off of waivers from Chicago as the league was resuming play from the Olympic break in February, followed up his assist with a backhand score to extend Tampa Bay's lead at the 17 minute mark of the middle frame off a pass from Ondrej Palat. Filppula picked up a secondary assist on the goal, his second of the night, extending his point streak to four games.
With 3:17 to go in regulation, J.T. Brown headed down the ice into the Devil's zone, drawing Brodeur to the right side of the net. Brown passed the puck to a patient Nate Thompson, who wristed it between Brodeur's legs to extend the Lightning lead to 3-0.
The game ended with Ben Bishop picking up his fifth shutout of the season, tied for second in the NHL. With the win, Bishop now holds the Lighting single-season record with 31.
First Period -
Second Period -
1. TB - Crombeen (Kostka, Filppula) 12:26
2. TB - Kostka (Palat, Filppula) 16:58
Third Period -
3. TB - Thompson (Brown) 16:41
Shootout Tally: N/A
Shots On Goal:
NJ - 23
TB - 32
NJ - (1) Zubrus - Interference, Ryder - Roughing; (2) Zubrus - Holding-the-Stick, Merrill - PS: Tripping on Breakaway; (3) NONE
TB - (1) Gudas - Delay-of-Game, Gudas - Diving; (2) Purcell - Hooking; (3) Brown - Goaltender Interference
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay will celebrate their 2004 Stanley Cup Championship over the next two days, with the Lightning hosting "Sunday With Stanley" tomorrow, followed by pre-game festivities on Ford Thunder Alley on Monday before taking on the Canucks at 7:30. You can catch all of the action on sister station 970 WFLA with Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin giving the call with coverage beginning at 7:00pm. For complete details on Sunday and Monday's events click HERE.