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Prospal's game-winner gives Lightning 2-1 series lead over Devils

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Prospal's game-winner gives Lightning 2-1 series lead over Devils

The Canadian Press
By:

Vincent Lecavalier scored his fourth goal of the playoffs while Brad Richards and Vinny Prospal both registered their first as the Lightning beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Monday night in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference series.

Johan Holmqvist, who has rebounded from a shaky NHL post-season debut to outplay Brodeur the past two games, stopped 30 shots as the seventh-seeded Lightning took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup. Game 4 is at Tampa on Wednesday night.

Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup champion, entered the playoffs with a 1.89 career goals-against average, but has given up three in each game of the series. Tampa Bay also won three-of-four regular-season meetings against the goalie, who won a league-record 48 games.

Lecavalier scored his power-play goal on a sharp-angle shot that appeared to catch Brodeur by surprise in the first period. He had an assist on the winner, which Prospal scored from in front of the net with 6:29 remaining in the third.

John Madden and Zach Parise scored for the Devils.

Brodeur's experience and strong track record are the main reasons many expect the Devils ultimately to win the series, however the 28-year-old Holmqvist is making it interesting.

The Devils outshot the Lightning 9-5 in the first but were 0-for-3 on the power play and failed to take advantage of a two-man advantage they held for just over a minute after Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis went off for high-sticking.

Holmqvist rebounded from allowing five goals on 24 shots in a Game 1 loss to make 34 saves in Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory in Game 2 at New Jersey. He was solid again Monday night, even after the second-seeded Devils tied it 1-1 on Madden's goal with 2:33 left in the second.

The Lightning goalie kept the game from getting away with a huge save as time expired in the period, rejecting John Dowd from point-blank range and setting the stage for an exciting third.

After Richards gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead just 69 seconds into the period, New Jersey countered with Parise's goal that deflected off Tampa Bay defenceman Dan Boyle three minutes later to give Brodeur another chance to take over the game.

The Devils goalie couldn't do it.

Instead, it was Holmqvist blocking the final shot in the closing seconds to put his team up in the series.

Notes: Before the game, the teams and crowd of 20,219 observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims of Monday's mass shooting at Virginia Tech. ... St. Louis had assists on each of Tampa Bay's goals. ... Richards had an assist on Lecavalier's goal and has at least one point in 12 consecutive playoff games. He has seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points during the streak, which began in Game 4 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final. ... A No. 7 seed has eliminated a No. 2 seed each of the past nine years. It has happened in the Eastern Conference six times since 1997.

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Prospal's game-winner gives Lightning 2-1 series lead over Devils