For anyone who felt the urge to hurl themselves head first off the bandwagon after one bad game in New York, no worries. Your seat was saved.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 21 of 22 shots faced for the win. Vincent Lecavalier, who any other year would be a runaway favorite for MVP except for the rise of Pittsburgh phenom Sidney Crosby, paced the Lightning with 1 goal and 2 assists. Vaclav Prospal added 1 goal and 1 assist and Brad Richards had a pair of helpers. The other Lightning goals came from The Secret Weapon, Nick Tarnasky and The Most Underrated Star in the NHL, Dan Boyle. Martin St. Louis, Cory Sarich and Doug Janik added individual assists.
The win temporarily closed the Lightning within 5 points of Atlanta for the division lead with Atlanta slated to play Edmonton late out west. If there's one benefit to posting a game recap late, it's that I get to include that Atlanta is losing to the Oilers 4-1 after two periods. So, barring an incredible comeback by the Thrashers, the Lightning will not only have closed the gap to 5 points but they will hold 2 games in hand and they still have two head to head matchups with Atlanta still on the schedule. The division is within the Lightning's reach, so long as they continue to play well and keep one eye on Atlanta and one eye on Carolina which is also running the Thrashers down.
New Jersey 2:12, Scott Gomez 10 (power play) (Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner)
Tampa Bay 0:44, Vaclav Prospal 9 (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 17:24, Nick Tarnasky 3 (Brad Richards, Cory Sarich)
Tampa Bay 18:12, Vincent Lecavalier 35 (Vaclav Prospal, Doug Janik)
Tampa Bay 0:56, Dan Boyle 12 (power play) (Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier)
Game sheet from NHL.com.