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Lightning top Devils 3-2 to even series
By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
Apr 14, 2007 - 10:59:30 AM

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Tampa Bay Lightning expect Vincent Lecavalier to score. Having Johan Holmqvist outplay Martin Brodeur was an unexpected bonus.

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, left, and teammate Jamie Langenbrunner watch as the puck goes into the net for a goal by Tampa Bay Lightning's Filip Kuba in the first period of Game 2 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Saturday night, April 14, 2007, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Lecavalier, the NHL's top goal scorer this season, netted one early in the third period to break a tie, and Holmqvist made 34 saves to lead the Lightning to a 3-2 victory Saturday night, evening the first-round, Eastern Conference series at 1-all.

Holmqvist was the big question mark for the Lightning after he gave up five goals on 24 shots in Game 1, including three relatively bad ones.

"Homer made some unbelievable saves and kept us in the game," Lecavalier said after the Lightning avoided going down 2-0, a deficit no team has recovered from against the Devils. "That gave us a lot of confidence. We knew he'd do it. He's a very determined guy. We knew he was focused in the room. He came back strong mentally."

The Lightning, who will host Game 3 on Monday, also showed a lot of resilience in rallying from a 2-1 deficit late in the second period, with a little help from Brodeur.

Martin St. Louis tied the game with less than a minute left in the frame with a bad-angle goal from along the goal line.

"I was just trying to put it on net and get some air underneath it," St. Louis said. "I don't know where it went but it found its way in."

Brodeur took the blame.

"I was there, it just went through me," he said. "I would love to have it back, but it doesn't work like that in hockey. He had nothing to lose and he hammered it as hard as he could and it went through me."

Lecavalier got the winner — his third goal of the series — by getting behind the Devils' defense and deflecting a shot from the point by Paul Ranger at 1:42 of the third period.

"I saw the puck was going to our defense," Lecavalier said. "I just wanted to go in front of the net. The shot came toward me and I kind of got lucky and tipped it."

It was then up to Holmqvist to make the lead stand, and he did.

Playing in his second career playoff game, the Swede preserved the win with a stop on a close-in whack by Brian Gionta at the right post in the final 2 seconds. He also made good saves on Zach Parise and Paul Martin in the closing minutes.

"The way we played in the second and the third I thought we played extremely well," Brodeur said. "You have to give them credit. Their goalie played awesome."

Filip Kuba also scored for the Lightning, who will be home for the next two games of the best-of-seven matchup.

Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner scored for the Devils, who are 10-0 when they take a 2-0 series lead.

Holmqvist was at his best in the second period, when New Jersey had an 18-5 advantage in shots. The only one that got past him was Langenbrunner's attempt in close with the Devils' enjoying a two-man advantage.

"That was the key period where they ended up with a number of chances," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "He (Holmqvist) was aggressive. He looked confident. That's how athletes become better athletes and playoff performers by getting experience. He's lived through a couple of games, from one end of the spectrum to the other."

Tampa Bay had had the better of play in the first period, but like the Devils they gave up a late goal.

Kuba put the Lightning ahead at 9:02 on a 3-on-2, short-handed break with Brad Richards and Eric Perrin. Richards cut across the ice after entering the Devils zone and then made a pass back against the cut and found Perrin in the left circle. Brodeur went down thinking he would shoot, but Perrin found Kuba alone on the right side for a shot into an empty net.

Parise, who scored twice in Game 1, tied it with less than 2 minutes left in the period on the Devils' third power play. Holmqvist made a pad save on Brian Rafalski's point shot, but the rebound went to Parise for a shot into an empty net.

Notes:@ The Devils are still looking for their first sellout of the season. The attendance of 18,235 was about 800 shy of capacity. ... Devils D Brad Lukowich was hit in the face by a high stick by St. Louis in the third period. He rushed off the ice and returned a couple of minutes later. No penalty was called.

Copyright 2007 - MOP Squad Sports

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