TAMPA, Fla. -- Despite fighting to the end, The Tampa Bay Lightning can't seem to buy a win -- home or away -- and the run of turnovers, empty power-play opportunities, easy goals allowed and just plain bad luck is getting on the team's nerves.
The New Jersey Devils were the latest to frustrate the Lightning on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum, scoring three times on six shots in the second period -- including a shorthanded score by Adam Henrique that proved to be the game-winner -- to break open a 2-2 tie. New Jersey then had to hang on for a 5-4 win after Steven Stamkos scored two goals in the third period
The Devils came out fast, scoring on their first shot on goal by Petr Sykora just 28 seconds into the game. New Jersey also scored on its first shot in the second period when Zach Parise got his ninth goal of the season just 56 seconds into the period. Ilya Kovalchuk finished off a 2-on-none for his ninth of the season at 5:42 of the period. Parise, with two assists, had a hand in all three second-period scores.
Dainius Zubrus deflected a shot from the point for a power-play goal at 5:38 of the opening period to make the score 2-0.
The Lightning scored twice in 80 seconds of the first period on goals by Steve Downie, his fourth of the season, and Blair Jones -- his first -- to pull even with the Devils, but the wheels came off for the Lightning in the second period as their scoring woes continued. Despite firing 17 shots on New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg -- including 10 shots during four power-play opportunities -- Tampa Bay was unable to score.
Parise’s goal, a soft shot from in close, chased Dwayne Roloson, making his first start after sitting out three games. Roloson finished with nine saves on 12 shots. Mathieu Garon, in relief of Roloson, stopped eight of the 10 shots he faced.
The win got New Jersey off on the right track on a brief road trip that concludes Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.
"A big two points tonight," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. "It was important; we came out and got a win. We wanted to start the road trip right and we did that."
New Jersey took the second of four meetings scheduled with Tampa Bay this season. The Devils also prevailed 4-2 in Tampa on Nov. 19.
Hedberg, making his 16th start of the season, stopped 32 of 36 shots for his ninth win of the season.
"It was a hard-fought, crazy game -- at least from my standpoint," Hedberg said. "Even though we were up three goals going into the third, I didn't have a feeling that this was going to be an easy ride. And it wasn't, either."
Stamkos cut the gap to two as Tampa Bay finally made good on a power-play chance at 9:29 of the third period. The goal came after Dominic Moore fed him the puck as he stood alone in front of Johan Hedberg. Stamkos flipped the puck into the net over Hedberg.
With Garon pulled for the extra man, Stamkos struck again to narrow the gap to one goal, but with only 34 seconds remaining, that was as close as Tampa Bay would come as the Lightning lost for the seventh time in their last eight games.
With two goals and an assist, Stamkos now has recorded at least a point in 11 of 12 home games this season. Still, the individual points were of little satisfaction.
"We're finding ways to lose games right now," Stamkos said. "We showed a lot of character, like we always do; never quit and come back – but the second period killed us."
Lightning coach Guy Boucher was clearly perturbed with the outcome.
"I tell the players, 'You have to know what's what,'" Boucher said. "Tonight, we had 37 shots on goal against 22 on us. I asked the players to compete. We got scoring chances and we were missing some, but we still got four goals. It's tough for us to get those goals we deserve and then one mistake and it cost us right away.
"It’s tough mentally on our players. I'm not going to point any fingers here. It's a team sport and there are moments in a franchise, moments in a season, in segments of a season that you don’t understand why. It’s just happening this way and you have to manage it mentally. It matters how you react to it and react the right way or else you sink lower. What’s tough is you feel like you deserve games and you don’t even get a point out of it. It does take a toll on you. It hurts."
Backhand shot -
1 - 0 NJD
2 - 0 NJD
Snap shot -
2 - 1 NJD
Backhand shot -
2 - 2 Tie
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