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Zajac forces OT with last-second goal, leads Devils to SO win over Tampa Bay

The Canadian Press
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Tampa Bay Lightning\'s Mattias Ohlund (5), of Sweden, stands up New Jersey Devil\'s Dainus Zubrus (8), of Russia, at the blue line during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Chris O\'Meara) Author: The Hockey News

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Zajac forces OT with last-second goal, leads Devils to SO win over Tampa Bay

The Canadian Press
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TAMPA, Fla. - Travis Zajac helped make sure a strong outing by Martin Brodeur was not wasted.

Zajac scored with one second left in regulation, and the New Jersey Devils went on to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

"It really bounced and a couple of guys tried to take a whack at it, but somehow it came to me," Zajac said.

Zajac forced overtime when he scored from the low slot to tie it at 3. Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the shootout.

"It was definitely a greasy one, but we pulled it off and sometimes that's what you need to try and get going," said Brodeur, the winningest goalie in NHL history with 558 victories. "We showed a lot of character coming back, especially late in the game."

The Devils (1-2) also got regulation goals from Parise and Jay Pandolfo and became the last Eastern Conference team to earn a point in the standings this season.

Steven Stamkos had two goals, and Todd Fedoruk scored in the third period for Tampa Bay.

"It's bad luck, that's what it is," Stamkos said.

Stamkos pulled the Lightning even at 2 with a power-play goal at 1:52 of the third. Tampa Bay went up 3-2 when this year's second overall pick, defenceman Victor Hedman, made a couple nifty stick-handling moves and sent a pass through the slot to Fedoruk in the right circle.

"You can't believe it," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said of the loss. "The guys deserved better."

Parise put the Devils ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal at 4:46 of the first.

After Brodeur made several strong saves, including chances by Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone, Stamkos tied it at 1 from the slot at 9:49 of the second. Brodeur stopped 41 shots.

"He's a big reason we were still in the game," Zajac said of Brodeur. "I think anytime you give up that many shots, it's going to be tough. He made a lot of great saves and kept us in the game."

Stamkos, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2008 NHL draft, has two goals and four points in three games this season.

Despite being outshot 25-9 during the second, the Devils took a 2-1 lead on Pandolfo's rebound goal with 1:51 remaining.

There was a scary moment for Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith with 5:44 left in the second. Smith, who missed most of the second half last season with concussion-related symptoms, was knocked to the ice when Malone hit Langenbrunner after an in-close shot.

"I didn't think about my head when I got hit. It was more my upper back," said Smith, who had a cut next to his right eye. "Felt like it cracked every bone in my back. I'll be all right, but probably will be sore tomorrow."

After a brief delay, Smith remained in the game and finished with 31 saves.

"I was scared," Malone said. "We're fortunate it's not more serious than what happened."

Notes: New Jersey RW Brendan Shananan cleared waivers on Wednesday. He had been placed on the non-roster list Monday. ... Former NHL all-star Mark Parrish signed a professional tryout contract with Norfolk, the Lightning's AHL affiliate.

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Zajac forces OT with last-second goal, leads Devils to SO win over Tampa Bay