TAMPA, Fla. – The New Jersey Devils have become road warriors.
David Clarkson scored the lone shootout goal in the fourth round of the tiebreaker and the Devils extended their season-opening, road-winning streak to seven games with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
The run at the start of the season equals the second longest in NHL history, matching Toronto (1940-41), Philadelphia (1985-86) and Detroit (2005-06). Buffalo holds the league record of 10 in a row, set at the beginning of the 2006-07 season.
“We’ve played pretty good the whole time on the road, but I thought we played such a tight game,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We didn’t give much to their top guns. They have good talent, they’ve got skills, and if you give them room you’re in trouble.”
Travis Zajac scored in regulation for the Devils. Martin Brodeur stopped 18 shots, but had his bid to tie Terry Sawchuk’s NHL shutout record of 103 end just under five minutes into the third period.
New Jersey is 1-4 at home.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos scored in his fifth straight game and backup goalie Antero Niittymaki made 37 saves.
“He made some unbelievable saves,” Brodeur said.
The Lightning dropped to 4-0-3 at home and lost for the fourth time overall in a shootout.
“Shootout, what do you do?” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. “I don’t know.”
Tampa Bay has failed to score this season on 14 shots in shootouts.
Stamkos tied it at one from along the right circle boards at 4:34 of the third. Martin St. Louis assisted on the goal for his 600th career NHL point and extended his season-opening point streak to 11 games (12 assists, 15 points).
Zajac put the Devils ahead 1-0 with a rebound goal 50 seconds into the second period.
Niittymaki was superb during the first period, stopping all 13 shots he faced. He made a nifty glove save on an in-close chance by Cory Murphy, turned aside Ilkka Pikkarainen’s shot during a 2-on-1, and made saves on a short-handed breakaway during a delayed penalty call and the ensuing penalty shot by Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner.
“Nitty grabbed a point for us,” Tocchet said. “Three, four guys didn’t come to play. You get flat. Niittymaki was incredible.”
Tampa Bay had three shots in the first and were outshot 28-9 through the second.
“After two periods I said we’re getting a lot of chances and not being able to get that second goal, it was scary,” Lemaire said.
NOTES: St. Louis tied the franchise record with an assist in 10 straight games. The NHL record is 23, set by Wayne Gretzky in 1990-91. … Devils D Johnny Oduya (lower-body injury) didn’t play. … Stamkos has a seven-game point streak. He has eight goals and 11 points during the stretch. … Langenbrunner and teammate Zach Parise both had six-game points streaks end.