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Devils even series on Gomez's OT goal
By Associated Press
Apr 19, 2007 - 3:30:15 AM

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New Jersey Devils' Chris Gomez (23) loses his stick to a check by Tampa Bay Lightning's Eric Perrin (9) during the Devils' 4-3 overtime win during an NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey game Wednesday night April 18, 2007, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Just when it looked like New Jersey might be in danger of falling to the brink of playoff elimination, Martin Brodeur showed why the Devils always feel they have a chance to win when he's on the ice.

Brodeur recovered from wasting a two-goal lead to stop 15 shots in the third period and overtime Wednesday night, helping the Atlantic Division champions beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 and even their first-round series at two games apiece.

"Marty's great. There's no panic in him," New Jersey's Brian Gionta said. "We're up 3-1 and give up a couple of goals, and he holds us in the game."

Zach Parise scored two goals and Scott Gomez tallied the winner nearly 13 minutes into overtime when he blocked a shot, gathered the puck and skated down the ice on a 2-on-1 to end the game with a perfectly placed wrist shot over Johan Holmqvist's left shoulder.

Game 5 is Friday night at New Jersey.

"It's a big momentum shifter for us. You lose that, you're down 3-1. Now it's 2-2; it's a new ballgame," Brodeur said. "We've got home-ice advantage now, so we're definitely happy about the situation we're in."

Brodeur had 30 saves, but let a two-goal lead slip away during a 5-minute stretch in the second period. He has allowed 12 goals in four games after entering the postseason with a career 1.89 goals-against average in 153 playoff games.

Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin scored for the Lightning, who could have won it if they had been able to take advantage of a power-play opportunity early in overtime.

"Turnovers hurt us," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "They hurt us early, they hurt us at the end, and they hurt us in the middle."

Brodeur's outstanding postseason history, and Holmqvist's NHL playoff inexperience, are the main reasons most people felt the Devils had a big advantage going into the series. But the three-time Stanley Cup champions haven't delivered the kind of performance New Jersey is accustomed to getting this time of year.

The Devils turned the puck over in their defensive zone, setting up Perrin's goal that made it 1-1 with just under 8 minutes remaining in the opening period. Parise countered with his first goal for a 2-1 New Jersey lead, and the Devils went up two goals when the 22-year-old scored again on a power play midway through the second.

But Brodeur couldn't make it stand.

New Jersey Devils' Scott Gomez, left, celebrates with teammate Patrik Elias, of the Czech Republic, after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Tampa Bay Lightning during an NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey game Wednesday night, April 18, 2007, in Tampa, Fla. The Devils won, 4-3. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay roared back on the goals by Lecavalier and St. Louis, then had several chances to break the 3-3 tie in the third period.

"That was a great hockey game. But shot they take, you're kind of tensing up," said Parise, who has six goals in the series.

In overtime, Gomez got in front on Cory Sarich's shot from the point, gathered the puck and broke down the ice on a 2-on-1 to end the game.

"That's playoff hockey. You've got to have luck. You've got to get a bounce go your way," Gomez said. "It just hit my foot in the right spot. If it goes by the boards, who knows what happens. We got lucky on it."

Brodeur, who has allowed three goals in each game, stopped 10 shots in the third period and five in overtime. He called it his "most active" performance of the series, but wouldn't say it was his best.

"I got a chance to play a little more aggressive. I think the situation helped me, the way that they played and they threw the pucks at net because they were desperate," he said. "That kind of helped me out. I was in the thick of things a lot, played the puck and made some saves. Once in a while the puck hit me this time. It was fun."


The Devils outshot the Lightning 37-33, including 29-28 in regulation. ... New Jersey D Colin White sat out for the second straight game because of a stiff back. ... Lightning C Brad Richards had an assist on St. Louis' goal, giving him at least one point in 13 consecutive playoff games, a streak that began during the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.

Copyright 2007 - MOP Squad Sports

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