There were three major reasons why - and how - the Devils were able to win this game.
First, the Devils were very opportunistic in the first half of the game. Despite not having the puck nearly as much as the Lightning in the opening 30 minutes, the Devils were able to convert on three isolated chances and build a 3-0 lead.
Second, the Devils defended extremely hard when they didn't have the puck. Even though a good portion of the game was played in the Devils defensive zone, the home side was committed to limiting the number of dangerous Lightning looks. New Jersey consistently collapsed its defenders in front of the net, so that the Lightning had a difficult time getting pucks through to Cory Schneider.
Lastly, when the Devils did have breakdowns, Schneider erased those mistakes. He was a difference-maker in net, denying every Lightning quality chance but one.
And what about from the Lightning's perspective? This wasn't necessarily a poor performance. They carried nearly all of the puck possession during the first half of the game, moved the puck well during their four power play chances (even though they didn't score on them) and did generate enough scoring chances to win. Unfortunately, they made three costly mistakes in the first half of the game - one was on rush coverage and the other two involved defensive zone turnvoers. The Devils turned those mistakes into goals. Also, while the Devils didn't score any more goals in the second half of the game, they did have more puck possession and scoring chances than they had in the opening 30 minutes. That made the Lightning's comeback effort more difficult.
The Bolts have now dropped consecutive games in regulation for the first time this year. And they're in the middle of a back-to-back. If they're going to end the skid, they'll need to pick up a win on Sunday against a rested New York Rangers squad.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Adam Henrique's opening goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Cory Schneider - Devils. 32 saves.
- Adam Henrique - Devils. Scored 100th career NHL goal and added an assist.
- Brayden Point - Lightning. Assist.