It was Friday, January 8, 2010 at the Prudential Center in Newark, and everything was normal for the first half of the game between the New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning. The latter had just scored their third goal while the former had yet to get on the board. Then, at 8:18 pm, as the teams prepared for a faceoff outside New Jersey’s zone, the lights at the Edison Street end of the arena went out.
As the arena tried to fix the problem, the players first waited on their benches, then skated laps to keep loose, and after eight or nine minutes were sent to their locker rooms by officials. At 9:37, the referees left to speak with the coaches and general managers. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello explained, “A circuit breaker went down. They found which one it was and they could not get the computer to work with the circuit breaker.” He continued, “We tried our darndest to get this game in. We waited as long as we could.” Meanwhile, the fans were literally left in the dark without any announcements and began booing after an hour and a half. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said, “We all looked at the ice the way it is with the lighting that we have right now and, to all of us, it would be dangerous to keep playing.” When Lightning GM Brian Lawton joked that they would accept a forfeit, he officially said, “Things happen. Obviously the Devils feel terrible about it. It’s tough on the fans, obviously tough on players and coaches. Sometimes things happen out of control.” Finally, a little after 10 pm, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman decided to postpone the game “due to concerns for the safety of the players and the officials.” They would reschedule picking up the game where it left off midway into the second period with the Lightning leading 3-0.
On Saturday night, the Devils played at the Bell Centre in Montreal, where they defeated the Canadiens 2-1. The Lightning played in Philadelphia and lost to the Flyers 4-1.
Both teams and about 3,000 of the 15,000 plus ticket holders returned to the fully-lit Prudential Center on Sunday evening. Resuming the game at 6:10 pm, the teams had had a break of 45 hours and 52 minutes. Mike Smith returned to Tampa Bay’s net, but Yann Danis took over New Jersey’s for Martin Brodeur. Having only a period and a half, the Devils could not catch up to the Lightning. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire commented afterwards, “We were rushing all the time. We had to rush to try to get the game going, get in their zone and get some plays because we knew that there was only a period left. It was weird.” The Devils scored in the third before and after a final goal by the Lightning to lose 4-2 in what the Hackensack Record called “one of the strangest – and longest – games in the team’s 27 ½ year history.” The game that began at 7:08 pm on Friday finally ended 48 hours later at 7:15 pm on Sunday.
- Tom Gulitti, “Lights out! NHL ‘postpones’ Devils,” Hackensack Record, 9 Jan. 2010, p. S1 and S6.
- Tom Gulitti, “Devils light on offense,” Hackensack Record, 11 Jan. 2010, p. S1 and S8.