NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Keith Kinkaid finally got to enjoy a shootout, and the New Jersey Devils celebrated something even better — a much-needed win.
Kinkaid stopped all three shootout attempts and Patrik Elias scored the only goal in the one-on-one session as the Devils snapped a five-game skid with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
“”It was one of the best moments of my life,” Kinkaid said after posting his first NHL win. “I celebrated with my teammates, but it’s a great accomplishment to get the first one. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning and I can talk about a regulation win.”
The start was the third of Kinkaid’s NHL career and all three have gone to shootouts. The first two ended in losses to Chicago and the Islanders.
Kinkaid made sure this one was different. He made 26 saves in regulation, shook off a late goal by Nikita Kucherov and stopped shootout attempts by Steven Stamkos, Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin in getting New Jersey its third win in 14 games (3-7-4).
“He was really solid,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “He played with confidence. He gave our group confidence.”
Adam Henrique and Elias scored for New Jersey, which has beaten Tampa Bay twice this season.
“It was a huge win,” DeBoer said. “We really needed it. It was a gutsy win. I don’t think there were too many people picking us tonight. We found a way.”
Stamkos and Kucherova tallied for the Lightning, who lost for the fifth times in seven games. Kucherov scored with 40.1 seconds left in regulation to tie it.
Elias got the winner with a backhand move that beat Evgeni Nabokov on the Devils ‘ third shootout attempt.
“I was just trying to make a move, coming in from the other side,” said Elias, who said he had not scored in a shootout in a while. “I usually don’t come in from the left side. I faked a shot to see what he is going to do and I had half the net open.”
After killing off a late four-minute high sticking penalty to Michael Ryder to put themselves within three minutes of a win, the Devils could not hold the lead.
With less than a minute to play, Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison took a shot from the point that appeared to hit teammate Ryan Callahan in front of the crease. Kucherov got the loose puck, took a stride to his right and sent a backhander off the glove of Kinkaid and into the net for his 13th goal.
“Points are very valuable. You can’t just throw one away like that,” Callahan said. “The shootout is pretty much a crap shoot, but that was a very valuable point we let get away.”
New Jersey took a 2-0 lead in the first period as Henrique and Elias beat Nabokov, who got the start with Ben Bishop out for the second straight game with lower body injury.
Henrique got his ninth of the season seconds after Nabokov stopped defenseman Andy Greene in close on a power play. The puck went behind the net, took a weird bounce off the end boards and back into the crease for a tap-in goal.
Elias’ fourth goal of the season was spectacular. He carried the puck into the Lightning end with only defenseman Matt Carle to beat. The 38-year-old did a spin in the right circle and unleashed a backhander at the end of the loop. It hit off Carle’s stick and fluttered over Nabokov’s shoulder.
Stamkos got Tampa Bay back in the game with 5:05 left in the second period, putting the rebound of Callahan’s shot in close into an open net.
While the Lightning had much of the territorial advantage in the game, the Devils had plenty of scoring chances. Travis Zajac hit the goalpost twice on power-play chances, Elias was stopped in close twice and Nabokov made a prone save on Henrique on a rebound at the end of a 3-on-1 break in the third period.
NOTES: Elias now has 397 career goals in 17 seasons with the Devils. … Greene’s assist was his first point in seven games. … Lightning C Tyler Johnson (flu) missed his first game of the season. The second-year player has 10 goals and 23 assists this season. … Ryder has gone 20 games without a goal. New Jersey is 2-5 in shootouts this season after winning to win one last season. …Tampa Bay is 1-4 in shootouts this season.
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