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NHL Playoff Game Summary - Tampa Bay at New Jersey

(Thursday, April 24th)

Final Score: New Jersey 3, Tampa Bay 0

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Martin Brodeur made 15 saves for his third shutout of the playoffs and New Jersey scored three goals in the third period on the way to a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Meadowlands.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven set is scheduled for Saturday in New Jersey.

Jamie Langenbrunner notched a goal and an assist for the Devils, while John Madden and Turner Stevenson also scored goals. New Jersey has won five of its six games this playoff season, having beaten Boston in five games to capture its opening-round series.

The Lightning won their first-round series in six games against Washington to post their first-ever playoff series victory. That series started in similar fashion, as Tampa Bay dropped a 3-0 decision.

"I don't think we competed too hard offensively," said Lightning head coach John Tortorella. "I think we showed them too much respect offensively. We knew they were a good defensive team. We expected it to be very difficult to play against them, but I think we need to push a little bit harder."

Nikolai Khabibulin made 29 saves in defeat. Tampa Bay's top two players, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, each managed only one shot on goal and were a minus-two.

"We can't hope it on Vinny and Marty," said Tortorella. "If we're going to get something accomplished in this series, someone else has to step up."

Brodeur earned his 16th career playoff shutout and has posted back-to-back shutouts, having blanked Boston on 28 shots in the Game 5 clincher. He has not allowed a goal since being pulled early in the third period of Game 4 in the first-round series against the Bruins.

"It's important that we establish ourselves," said Brodeur. "It's not going to be an easy series for them. They'll have to work hard to try and beat us. We have a good system and we've got to play it well. In the first game we showed them how we're going to play."

The game was scoreless until Langenbrunner netted his sixth goal of the playoffs to give the Devils a 1-0 lead at 7:41 of the third period. He picked up the puck at center ice, skated into the Tampa Bay zone along the left wing and fired a shot that deflected off a Lightning defender before going through Khabibulin's legs.

"I was as surprised as anyone that it was in the net," said Langenbrunner. "I pride myself in playing well in big games."

Madden made it 2-0 at the 11:28 mark with his third goal. Scott Stevens blocked a shot in his own zone and Langenbrunner raced the other way with a 3- on-1 break. Langenbrunner crossed the Tampa Bay blue line along the right wing and dropped a pass for Madden, who snapped a wrister through Khabibulin's pads.

Brodeur made a pair of outstanding saves with just over five minutes left to keep New Jersey ahead. He stopped a point-blank re-direct by Brad Richards from the slot, then sprawled to get a piece of Vaclav Prospal's rebound at the left side of the crease.

Stevenson then scored his first of the post-season with 2:51 left to seal it. The Lightning turned the puck over at their own blue line, enabling Stevenson to race in alone on Khabibulin and he lifted a backhander over the netminder to make it 3-0.

Brodeur stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period after facing just seven through the opening 40 minutes. He has shutouts in three of his last four games.

"Marty was sharp," said Devils head coach Pat Burns. "That's a tough game for a goaltender when there's not a whole lot of chances being generated, especially in the first part of the game."

The teams played a cautious first period, featuring a total of 10 shots. Brodeur stopped just four shots in the opening stanza, while Khabibulin faced six.

"We had to (remain patient) and the guys did a great job of that," Burns said. "We talked it about before the game and [the players] talked about it during the first intermission, how we had to stay patient."

The Devils carried play for the majority of the second period, outshooting the Lightning 15-3. Khabibulin made a right pad save on a rebound chance by Patrik Elias early the stanza and had to turn away four Devil shots during a power play.

Tampa Bay also had a power play late in the period, but did not put a shot on net. The Devils had the best chance while shorthanded, as Madden had a backhander from the right circle stopped by Khabibulin.

"There's a fine line between being patient and just sitting back," said St. Louis. "I thought we gave them way too much respect. We didn't play physical, we didn't finish checks, we didn't make it tough on them."

Game Notes

Stevens finished with two assists...The Devils took just one penalty, but were also 0-for-3 on the power play...New Jersey defenseman Brian Rafalski was scratched because of the flu. He was replaced by Tommy Albelin...Sergei Brylin returned to the New Jersey lineup for the first time since February 5. He had been sidelined with a broken right wrist.

04/24 23:14:41 ET

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