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Elias’ Goal Ends Sticky Situation

From Associated Press

New Jersey’s Patrik Elias redeemed himself and wiped the frown from Coach Pat Burns’ face with one shot.

Elias made up for a penalty late in the third period by scoring the winning goal 1 minute 16 seconds into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Friday night at East Rutherford, N.J.

Burns, the Devils’ perfectionist coach, shot Elias a glare when the wing was called for playing with an illegal stick late in the third period. Burns turned livid when that penalty set up a power-play goal by Nashville’s Andreas Johansson with 1:59 remaining that sent the game into overtime.

“I didn’t check the sticks and I should have,” Elias said. “It’s my responsibility. I take all the blame.”

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But Elias went from goat to hero when he took a pass from Scott Gomez and drove around defenseman Francis Bouillon, who dived to block the shot. The puck deflected off Bouillon’s stick and past goalie Mike Dunham.

Burns, who said he knew the stick was illegal from the start of the game, tried to defuse the situation when Elias came back to the bench after Nashville’s tying goal.

“Everyone expected an uproar, but I knew I had to throw him back out there,” Burns said. “He came to the bench and we told him to lift his head up. You learn from these things.”

Colin White and Sergei Brylin scored second-period goals and Martin Brodeur made 22 saves for the Devils, who have opened the season with three consecutive victories for the sixth time in team history.

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Tampa Bay 8, Atlanta 5 -- Vincent Lecavalier had two goals, an assist and was involved in a fight as the Lightning won at Tampa, Fla. Lecavalier scored twice in Tampa Bay’s four-goal second period as the Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit.

He also fought Atlanta’s Dan Snyder with a 1:14 to play.

The Lightning has opened the season with three consecutive wins for the first time and is three games over .500 for the first time since Oct. 24, 1996.

Fourteen of 18 Lightning skaters had a point, including five multipoint efforts.

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