TAMPA (620 WDAE) -- Ondrej Palat had a goal and a pair of assists, while Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 29 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning held on for a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Thursday at Amalie Arena to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After a first ten minutes that saw Yanni Gourde fail to capitalize on a pair of scoring opportunities, it was Ondrej Palat who would get the Lightning on the board. He worked the puck into the slot and beat Ken Kinkaid for the first goal of the playoffs
Tyler Johnson made it 2-0 with less than a minute to play in the period, as he took a feed from Palat and beat Kinkaid for his first goal of the postseason. Brayden Point also assisted on the goal for his first point of the playoffs.
Gourde finally found the back of the net early in the second period, as Palat once again set up another scoring opportunity with the rookie tallying his first playoff goal in his first playoff game.
New Jersey got on the scoreboard midway through the second on a Taylor Hall goal, and Travis Zajac cut the lead back to a single goal midway through the third, but Alex Killorn gave Tampa Bay some breathing room with under eight minutes to play, as Gourde set him up for his first score of the postseason.
Nikita Kucherov finished the scoring with under 90 seconds to play, finding the back of the empty net for his first goal of the playoffs.
Vasilevskiy finished with 29 saves on 31 shots faced.
The Lightning will look for a 2-0 series lead Saturday afternoon, when the two teams return to Amalie Arena for Game 2 of this best-of-seven series. Faceoff is set for 3:00, with coverage on 970 WFLA beginning at 2:00.
- TBL: GOAL - Ondrej Palat (1). ASSISTS - Johnson, McDonagh. TIME - 15:00.
- TBL: GOAL - Tyler Johnson (1). ASSISTS - Palat, Point. TIME - 19:31.
- TBL: GOAL (PP) - Yanni Gourde (1). ASSISTS - Palat, Sergachev. TIME - 1:54
- NJD: GOAL - Taylor Hall (1). ASSISTS - none. TIME - 13:55.
- NJD: GOAL - Travis Zajac (1). ASSISTS - Hall, Butcher. TIME - 9:35.
- TBL: GOAL - Alex Killorn (1). ASSISTS - Gourde. TIME - 12:14.
- TBL: GOAL - Nikita Kucherov (1). ASSISTS - none. TIME - 18:48
- TB C Yanni Gourde
- TB C Tyler Johnson
- TB LW Ondrej Palat
UPCOMING SCHEDULE (Lightning lead series 1-0)
GAME 2 - Lightning vs Devils, Saturday, Amalie Arena, 3:00 p.m. faceoff
GAME 3 - Lightning at Devils, April 16, Prudential Center, 7:30 p.m. faceoff
GAME 4 - Lightning at Devils, April 18, Prudential Center, 7:30 p.m. faceoff
GAME 5 - Lightning vs Devils, April 21, Amalie Arena, TBD *
GAME 6 - Lightning at Devils, April 23, Prudential Center, TBD *
GAME 7 - Lightning vs Devils, April 25, Amalie Arena, TBD *
(*) - if needed