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This time. Martin St. Louis and Simon Gagne had early second-period goals and the Lightning beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Friday night. Two nights earlier, the Bolts blasted Phoenix 8-3, ending the Coyotes' eight-game streak.
"Two wins against the two hottest teams in the NHL right now ... we wanted to be the team to end it, so we did our job," center Steven Stamkos said.
"I think we had a great homestand, overall," captain Vincent Lecavalier said.
New Jersey got a third-period goal from Mark Fayne but fell to 16-2-2 in its last 20 games. The loss dropped the Devils 11 points behind eighth-place Carolina, a 4-1 winner against Pittsburgh, as they try to make a historic comeback and grab a playoff berth. New Jersey was 27 points out at the halfway point of the season before getting hot.
"Mathematically, we're still in the hunt," center Dainius Zubrus said. "I don't think it's going to change our approach for the next game (Sunday at Florida)."
The Lightning got both of their goals in a 54-second span of the middle period -- and both came off faceoffs.
Stamkos beat Rod Pelley on a draw and got the puck to St. Louis, who beat goalie Johan Hedberg from the top of the left circle at 2:20 of the second period. Gagne made it 2-0 from near the right circle after Devils center Travis Zajac accidentally kicked the puck to him.
"One was a young kid that was there and the other one was a veteran, but on faceoffs you can't stand there," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "You've got to react to where the puck is going to go and we didn't. They scored two goals and that was the game."
In between the goals, Roloson made perhaps his best of his 19 saves, stopping Kovalchuk on a clean breakaway.
St. Louis has 3 goals and 11 points during an eight-game point streak. Gagne stopped a personal nine-game goal drought.
Hedberg, making his eighth straight start, had allowed just one goal over his previous three games. He kept the Devils in the game in the second period with big saves on Teddy Purcell and Stamkos.
"He still played the game he's been playing this whole time," Lemaire said of Hedberg, who finished with 28 saves. "I'm happy with this."
The first-place Lightning increased their Southeast Division lead over second-place Washington to five points. The Caps lost 6-0 at home to the New York Rangers.
"That was a difficult win," said Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher, whose team plays at New York on Sunday afternoon and visits New Jersey on Wednesday.
Kovalchuk had an assist on Fayne's goal to extend his point streak to 12 games (7 goals, 14 points).
Devils forward David Clarkson returned to play four shifts in the third after being cut on the right forearm by a skate one period earlier while finishing a check. He estimated the cut required around 18 stitches.
"I didn't want to sit and watch, so I tried to go back and play," Clarkson said. "They said I missed the things (with the cut) that could have been trouble, so it's good. It was lucky."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Jason Arnott Hooking against Pavel Kubina|
|Sean Bergenheim Holding against Henrik Tallinder|
|Mattias Tedenby Holding against Brett Clark|