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NHL PLAYOFF ROUNDUP

Lightning bolt ahead

Tampa Bay beats Brodeur again

Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist is in perfect position to deny the Devils' Zach Parise. Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist is in perfect position to deny the Devils' Zach Parise. (DOUG BENC/GETTY IMAGES)

The Tampa Bay Lightning are finding ways to make Martin Brodeur look ordinary.

Vincent Lecavalier scored his fourth goal of the playoffs, and Brad Richards and Vinny Prospal each tallied their first in helping the host Lightning beat the New Jersey Devils, 3-2, last night in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference series.

Johan Holmqvist, who has rebounded from a shaky NHL postseason debut to outplay Brodeur the past two games, stopped 30 shots as the seventh-seeded Lightning took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup. Game 4 is at Tampa tomorrow night.

Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup champion, entered the playoffs with a 1.89 career goals-against average, but has given up three in each game of the series. Tampa Bay also won three of four regular-season meetings against the goalie, who won a league-record 48 games.

Lecavalier scored his power-play goal on a sharp-angle shot that appeared to catch Brodeur by surprise in the first period. He had an assist on the winner, which Prospal scored from in front of the net with 6:29 remaining in the third.

John Madden and Zach Parise scored for the Devils.

Sabres 3, Islanders 2 -- At Uniondale, N.Y., Thomas Vanek, Daniel Briere, and Adam Mair all connected in the second period and top-seeded Buffalo took a 2-1 series lead.

The Sabres, who led the NHL with 308 goals, had received only two goals from their forwards during the first round, both by Chris Drury in the opener. That all changed when the Sabres scored three times in a span of 7:39.

Trent Hunter and Ryan Smyth answered in the second period for the Islanders in front of a towel-waving, sellout crowd and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. It wasn't enough, despite 32 saves by Rick DiPietro in his first home game in three weeks.

Ryan Miller recovered from a shaky start to make 20 saves in his 20th career playoff victory. Game 4 is tomorrow night on Long Island, with Game 5 back in Buffalo Friday.

The speedy Sabres quickly took the play to the Islanders in the second. Mair scored at 5:17, Vanek sweated out a video replay for his goal at 8:38, and Briere made it 3-1 with 7:04 left in the period.

Sharks 3, Predators 1 -- Milan Michalek and Ryane Clowe scored second-period goals, and host San Jose pounded Nashville with 41 shots in a methodical Game 3 victory to take the series advantage.

Patrick Marleau scored the clinching goal with 4:26 to play, and Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves behind the Sharks' relentless offensive attack.

Ryan Suter scored his first NHL playoff goal for the Predators, who still haven't won a road playoff game in six tries over three seasons. Tomas Vokoun stopped 38 shots.

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