TAMPA Chris Bigras Jersey Womens , Fla. (AP) Captain Steven Stamkos and high-scoring Nikita Kucherov garner lots of attention. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning are hardly a two-man show.The top seed in the Eastern Conference got early goals from four players – none of them named Stamkos or Kucherov – before holding off the New Jersey Devils for a 5-2 victory Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round series.Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde scored, helping the Lightning build a 3-0 lead that New Jersey trimmed to one goal before Alex Killorn and Kucherov, who added an empty-netter with 1:12 remaining, finished off the win before a crowd of 19,092.”Not the outcome we wanted,” Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid said ”That’s why it’s a series and not a game.”Taylor Hall scored an unassisted goal off a turnover in the second period, then assisted on Travis Zajac’s power-play goal that trimmed the Devils’ deficit to 3-2 midway through third against Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had 29 saves for Tampa Bay, which held off Boston in the final week of the season for the best record in the East.For the Devils, a shaky opening period was too much to overcome.”I don’t know what happened. That’s the way hockey goes sometimes. Starting on time is a big part of hockey, and especially playoff hockey,” Hall said. ”We have to be a team that’s ready to battle right off the bat and just be aware that they have more than one line; more than Stamkos and Kucherov. They have a lot of dangerous guys and we have to be aware.”The line of Palat, Johnson and Brayden Point Jack Johnson Jersey Womens , matched up against New Jersey’s top line, produced a pair of first-period goals and finished with six points.Killorn’s shot over Kincaid’s glove restored a two-goal lead before Kucherov, who led the Lightning with 100 points this season, ensured there would be no comeback.”I thought we played really well. I thought we played within our structure,” said Johnson, who also had an assist on Palat’s goal. ”You’ve got to give Jersey credit. They pushed in that second period. That third period, I thought we took it back over. `If we continue to play like that, I like our chances this series.”Game 2 is Saturday at Amalie Arena.Tampa Bay beat the Devils for the first time this year. The Devils won all three meetings between the teams during the regular season, with each game decided by one goal.Kinkaid entered his first career playoff game as one of the hottest goalies in the league, going 7-0-1 over his last eight starts to help New Jersey grab its first playoff berth since the Devils reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.The Lightning, on the other hand, have been driven all season by failing to make the playoffs last spring after making deep runs previous two years.With Kucherov and Stamkos leading the way, Tampa Bay paced the NHL in scoring and Vasilevskiy set a franchise record and tied for the league lead with 44 victories in his first season as a No. 1 goaltender.But after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015 and coming within one victory of a return trip two years ago, this season ultimately will be judged on whether the Lightning can put together another strong bid to win it all.”Last year was the first year that I missed the playoffs in any league. I’ve never had a long summer like that and that summer felt like forever,” said Johnson Brett Howden Jersey Womens , who has 22 goals in 48 career playoff games.”So I’m glad where we’re at right now. I’m excited to be back at this time,” Johnson added. ”It’s the best hockey. It’s the most fun you can play in.”While the Devils did a nice job of containing the high-scoring Kucherov and Stamkos, Palat, Johnson, Killorn and Gourde, who set a Lightning rookie record with 25 goals this season, showed why it’s so difficult to totally shut down Tampa Bay’s offense.The momentum shifted on New Jersey’s first power-play opportunity. Even though the Devils didn’t score, they got off five shots against Vasilevskiy, who weathered the barrage before Hall broke through after Palat turned the puck over in the Lightning zone.”We looked a little bit tentative, a little bit unsure, but I thought we settled into the game, particularly in the second period,” Devils coach John Hynes said. ”I thought the second half of the game was a little more of how we wanted to play. We’ll regroup and we’ll be a better team Saturday.”Notes: Stamkos returned to Tampa Bay’s lineup after missing the final three games of the regular season with a lower body injury. … It’s the third time the Devils and Lightning have met in the playoffs. New Jersey won both previous series, advancing in the 2003 Eastern Conference semifinals in five games and ending a 2007 quarterfinal matchup in six. … Zajac and captain Andy Greene are the only players remaining on New Jersey’s roster from the Devils’ 2012 postseason run.— BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres coach Phil Housley could overlook the blown leads and the defensive miscues.What mattered more was how Buffalo persevered behind goalie Linus Ullmark’s 41 saves and forward Sam Reinhart capping a two-point game by scoring the lone shootout goal in a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.“We’ve got to learn to tighten it up Paul Carey Jersey Womens , but I’ll give the guys credit, we found a way to win,” Housley said.Buffalo led by two in the second period but allowed the Wild to force overtime with 1:37 remaining in the third, when Zach Parise jammed in a loose puck at the left post.The Sabres, however, didn’t let down and won for just the third time in nine games. In the process, they also eased the criticisms directed at a team that had fallen out of the playoff picture by going 8-14-4 since a 10-game winning streak in November.“I like the way they stuck together,” Housley said.The game wasn’t decided until the third round of the shootout on a goal Reinhart didn’t initially realize went in.Driving in from the left wing, Reinhart snapped a shot that goalie Devan Dubnyk got a piece of with his right arm. The puck, however, had enough on it to dribble into the net.“I had no idea. I was just kind of turning up and just heard the crowd,” Reinhart said. “It was nice to hear.”And there was no mistaking the cheers that followed a moment later, when Parise’s backhand sailed high and wide of the top right corner of the net.Reinhart had an assist and scored to break a 3-all tie 6:25 into the third period by deflecting in Jake McCabe’s pass. Jack Eichel set up two goals and C.J. Smith also scored in a game the Sabres never trailed.Buffalo’s once anemic power-play unit converted both opportunities, on goals from Evan Rodrigues and Rasmus Dahlin. The two goals matched the Sabres’ combined output in their previous 11 games during which Buffalo went 2 of 28 with the man advantage.Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Charlie Coyle also scored during a three-goal second period. Dubnyk stopped 35 shots.The Wild dropped to 0-1-2 in their past three games, matching their second-longest skid of the season.On the bright side Chris Tierney Jersey Womens , Minnesota earned a point in its second straight outing after rallying from a third-period deficit in a 4-3 overtime loss to Chicago on Saturday.“You have to have that ability to come back, but I’d love to see us play with the lead a little bit,” Parise said. “It gets tough. You stress yourself out always fighting trying to come from behind. We’ve got to get ourselves a lead.”Buffalo bounced back after opening a seven-game homestand with a 7-3 loss to Chicago on Friday night.Housley used the three-day break between games to attempt to give his slumping team a spark by shuffling his top three lines and defensive pairings. He most notably split up Buffalo’s All-Star pairing of Eichel and forward Jeff Skinner. Eichel centered Kyle Okposo and Conor Sheary, while Skinner moved to a line centered by rookie Casey Mittelstadt.The moves appeared to pay off when Buffalo’s revamped second power-play unit converted on Rodrigues’ goal 4:31 into the game. The Sabres built a 3-1 edge 11:33 into the second when Dahlin’s shot from inside the blue line went in off Spurgeon’s stick in front.Defensive lapses led to the Wild tying the game at 3 before the period was over.Spurgeon scored 3:10 later, when he was allowed to break in up the right side, drive around the net and wrap in a shot.Coyle tied it at 3 with 2:55 left in the second period. Ullmark stopped Greg Pateryn’s shot from the right point and Luke Kunin slipped the rebound under the goalie but off the right post. Coyle beat two Sabres defenders to put the loose puck into the open net.NOTES: Wild coach Bruce Boudreau did not have an update on captain Mikko Koivu, who sustained an undisclosed injury and did not return after colliding with Buffalo’s Tage Thompson in the first period. … Smith played a day after being recalled from AHL Rochester, where he had five goals and seven assists in eight games after being demoted from Buffalo. … Kunin and Kyle Rau played for Minnesota a day after being called up from AHL Iowa. … Wild D Anthony Bitetto, claimed off waivers from Nashville on Jan. 25, played his first game with Minnesota.UP NEXTWild: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.Sabres: Continue their seven-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
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