The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to have to wait a little longer to end their 10-game losing streak against the New Jersey Devils.
How long? Nobody really knows after the Devils-Lightning game was suspended Friday night when a lighting problem on one side of the arena could not be fixed.
The teams waited almost two hours before the league decided to suspend the game with the Lightning leading 3-0 with 9:12 left in the period.
“We felt the teams could not continue playing,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice-president of hockey operations. “We tried for an hour and 52 minutes to restore power and appropriate lighting, but were left with no alternative but to postpone further play for the evening.”
The game will resume at the point where play was stopped.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet wanted the game to resume Sunday, provided the building was available.
“I think we got a 5-minute power play, too,” Tocchet quipped.
Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said a circuit breaker at three-year-old Prudential Center went down during the second period. The teams went to their locker rooms after initially waiting about 10 minutes for the lights to come back on.
“We could not get the computer to work with the circuit breaker and PSE&G determined that they would not be able to fix it tonight,” Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello said arena personnel turned up the LED lights on the scoreboard to provide more light, but there were too many shadows for play to continue.
“Safety has to come first,” said Lamoriello, who said he was in constant contact with the league during the problem.
The teams could not afford to wait much longer for a decision. The Devils play in Montreal and the Lightning are in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
“It’s a situation where things happen,” Tocchet said. “It’s not nature. It’s just something that happened in the building. Yeah, you’re frustrated cause your up 3-0, but they have to go to Montreal. There is no advantage for anybody. It’s more a thorn in everyone’s side. The best thing is to get this done as soon as possible.”
The last time an NHL game was postponed was on Nov. 22, 2005, when Detroit defenceman Jiri Fischer had a seizure on the bench in the first period of a game against the Nashville Predators. Doctors had to perform CPR on Fischer.
Steve Downie, Brandon Bochenski and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which had won five of its last seven games.
During the long delay, Stamkos and Downie sat on the Lightning bench and chatted. At one point goaltender Mike Smith, who was outstanding making 20 saves, also came out and put his leg over the boards and talked with them.
“It was a little hot in the room and we were just trying to see what was going on,” said Stamkos, who tallied his 22nd goal less than a minute before the lights dimmed. “Nothing too special. We were just trying to keep it light in case we were headed back out there.”
Veteran Lightning defenceman Mattias Ohlund said the Lightning didn’t do much in the dressing room during the delay.
“We were walking around having coffee, talking and obviously trying to stay warm,” he said. “After a while you figure it will be tough to go out there again, but you have to stay ready.”
The Lightning only had seven shots in the opening 30 minutes but three got behind Martin Brodeur, with the first two goals coming on the power play.
Downie deflected a point shot by Kurtis Foster past Brodeur at 6:58 of the opening period, and Tampa Bay got its other two goals in the second period before the lights dimmed and both were a little lucky.
Bochenski, who was recalled from Norfolk of the AHL on Jan. 2, scored on a quick shot from right in front after Rob Niederrmayer deflected a Stamkos pass right to him at 5:13 on another power play.
Stamkos scored a little less than 5 minutes later. Stamkos pushed a pass to Martin St. Louis and then took a return pass for a shot into a wide-open net.
“I’ve had lights go out but they have come up in 5 to 10 minutes,” Stamkos said. “I’ve never had a game called because the lights never came back on. This is a first for me and a lot of other guys, too.”
NOTES: Pierre-Luc Letourneau of the Devils and NHL penalty leader Zenon Konopka of the Lightning wrestled in the opening minutes and got 5 minutes each for fighting. St. Louis extended his consecutive game scoring streak (4-8-12) to nine games with an assist on Stamkos’ goal. …