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Lightning’s slow start dooms them against New Jersey in loss

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The Tampa Bay Lighting, off to a good start this season, have now stubbed their toes in back-to-back games.

The Lightning dropped a 3-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils Saturday night, marking the first time all season the team has lost two in a row. Tampa Bay is now 5-3 on the season.

Tampa Bay had 33 shots on goal, including six by forward Steven Stamkos. However, a third-period goal by Tyler Johnson was the only score the Bolts could manage. It was the seventh time in eight games the Bolts have failed to score in the first period.

“If we want to have long-term success  in this league,  you can’t fall behind,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “On our home stand, we found ways to come back, but it’s just a recipe for disaster.

“I look back, I think we’ve only scored once in the first period all year. You’re not going to win too many hockey games if you’re always chasing the game. Our urgency has not been there for whatever reason in the 3rd period against Montreal and it just carried into tonight. That’s too bad because that’s a team you catch on a back-to-back. It’s a little tough for us too because we’ve been on the road for a week and more than that so both teams have wear and tear on them a little bit but we’ve got to be better for us to win tonight.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy started in goal for Tampa Bay, but he stopped only 20 of 23 shots.

New Jersey scored twice in the opening period on goals by Adam Henrique and Damon Severson. Devante Smith-Pelly made it 3-0 in the third period. For a team playing its second game in two nights, the Devils were crisp.

“If you look at the schedule, you would say that would have benefited us, but we didn’t use it to our advantage,” Johnson said. “We didn’t start off hot. We didn’t start the way we wanted to, and they came out ready to play so you’ve got to give them credit for that. But we definitely weren’t at our best.”

The Lightning plays against the New York Rangers tonight.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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