TAMPA, FL - The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to be a thorn in the side of the New Jersey Devils. Visiting Tampa Bay for the second time this season, the Devils are now 0-2 in Tampa after a 5-2 loss Sunday night.
A four-goal first period by the Lightning put the Devils behind the eight-ball early, a deficit they were unable to overcome in the first game of a back-to-back scenario. The Devils will take on the Panthers Monday night.
Here are 10 takeaways from the game:
1. It was a milestone night for Devils top line forward Nico Hischier. Exactly one year, five months and two days after being selected first overall by New Jersey in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Hischier played in his 100th career NHL regular season game. Hischier had a remarkably healthy rookie campaign as the only player on the Devils squad to play in all 82 games.
2. Cory Schneider made his fifth start of the season and first against the Lightning since the two teams met in the first round of the 2017 NHL playoffs. The night certainly did not go Schneider's way after the Lightning posted four goals on their opening 7 shots of the game. He would go on to stop the remainder of the shots he faced, save for an 'own-goal' in the second period off of Sami Vatanen's stick.
3. Stefan Noesen made his return to the New Jersey Devils lineup since sitting out as a healthy scratch the last two games. In his return, Noesen scored the Devils opening goal at 9:39 of the first period after New Jersey had given up three goals in the opening 9:15 of the game.
Noesen banked in a shot after Lightning netminder Louis Domingue was pressured behind his own net by the 25-year-old forward. Brett Seney assisted on the Noesen goal that cut Tampa's lead to 3-1.
4. For much of the first period, the Devils were down a forward as Taylor Hall took just five shifts in the opening frame. Hall was caught in the face by an errant puck that struck him in the mouth. Hall had to receive medical attention in the Devils locker room, before returning with just 4:09 left in the first period. Hall returned and played the remainder of the game.
5. Despite missing most of the first period, Hall finished the game leading the Devils in shots on goal with five. Hall's season-high is six shots in a game.
6. New Jersey's penalty kill had been their bread and butter leading into the game against the Lightning. The Devils gave up their first power play goal since November 13, at the 7:21 mark of the first period, to Tampa Bay's Brayden Point. The last power play goal scored against the Devils was at home with the visiting Penguins going 1-for-3 on their power play opportunities. Since that game, the Devils power play had gone 16-for-16.
7. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Devils gave up their fifth goal of the game as Sami Vatanen tried to clear the puck behind the net. In a case of serious bad luck, Vatanen's goal went directly to an unsuspecting Cory Schneider and the puck went into the net for an 'own-goal.' Tampa's Brayden Point was credited with the goal, his second of the game.
8. After acquiring five assists in his first 8 games of the season, Devils forward Jesper Bratt is on the board in the goal department. Bratt scored his first of the season on a 2-on-1 rush with Pavel Zacha and beat Domingue cleanly with a snapshot. The goal pulled the Devils within 5-2 at the 5:21 mark of the third period.
Bratt's goal went unassisted.
9. New Jersey continue to look for answers on their power play. Against the Lightning, the Devils were 0-for-2 with the man-advantage. New Jersey's power play is just 1-for-21 in their last 10 games.
10. There is no time to dwell on the loss to the Lightning. The Devils will look to turn things around when they're back on the ice on Monday night for a meeting with the Panthers.