Kevin Bahl's Fatal Mistake Cost New Jersey Devils Win Vs. Lightning

The New Jersey Devils had a chance for a miraculous come-from-behind victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Kevin Bahl's terrible pass lead to a Brayden Point goal.

New Jersey Devils v Florida Panthers
New Jersey Devils v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils played a similar script on Saturday night in Tampa. They went down early, giving up the first goal for the 34th time this season in 47 games. They had a low-effort offense in the first and second periods, going into the second intermission with just 10 shots. Vitek Vanecek wasn't terrible, but he'd like to have one or two of those goals back. However, the Devils still had a shot to win. One play can be blamed for the loss of two crucial points.

In the third period, with all of the momentum going the Devils' way, Brayden Point buried one of the easiest goals of his career to make it 4-2 with about six minutes left in the game. After going down 2-0 and 3-1, the Devils cut the lead to one on two different occasions. Goals by Ondrej Palat and Jesper Bratt gave the team life. A play by Kevin Bahl took all that life away.

The play turned in a moment. Instead of finding a rushing Justin Dowling, the Lightning sent the puck in deep, and Vitek Vanecek sent it to Kevin Bahl before trying to get back in position. Before he could, the puck was in the back of the net. That's because two Lightning players rushed Bahl, he panicked, tried to rush a pass to Dowling, but he instead found Brayden Point all alone with an empty net.

Maybe the pass from Vanecek wasn't perfect. It's possible Dowling could have saved it if his stick was on the ice. Maybe Dawson Mercer could have been in a different spot. None of that truly matters. Bahl made the mistake, and the Devils lost.

With the loss, the Lightning take the third spot in the Atlantic Division, and they have an eight-point lead on the Devils. That makes their spot close to out of reach. If the Devils won, the lead would have been four. Of course, it doesn't matter if the Lightning get that third spot, but it will matter if that's the race for a Wild Card spot.