Blake Coleman couldn't buy an empty netter in the regular season.
So when he had the chance to seal a Game 3 victory for the Devils with a far-from-easy attempt on the Tampa Bay Lightning's empty cage late in the third period on Monday, the forward tried something slightly different.
"I haven't had much luck when I shoot for the net, so I figured if I just shoot near the net, maybe I'll get a bounce," Coleman said. "And, yeah, I found it."
This time, Coleman's shot was true, with his quick flick from the front of the Devils' bench sliding inside the left post with 57.3 seconds left to give the Devils a 4-2 lead in an eventual 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff Series at Prudential Center in Newark.
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Coleman dropped to two knees to celebrate his second goal in as many games, and it capped off a night where the rookie forward seemed to do a little bit of everything.
That included blocking a shot late in the third period with the Lightning threatening to tie the game. It forced Coleman to briefly leave the game before he returned for the clincher.
"It was little chaotic there at the end because he blocked the shot, and we were looking for him to be able to come back," Devils coach John Hynes said. "He basically came back right at the end.
"He really played to the way we want to play as a team. He's an identity player for us, so for him to get rewarded for his hard work and the thankless jobs that you do, shift in and shift out, nice to see him be able to get that goal."
That blocked shot was the second time Coleman was forced to the locker room during the game. He also briefly left after taking an incidental check to the head from Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Coleman passed medical tests and returned to the game.