LIGHTNING (25-12-5) at DEVILS (10-29-2)
TV: NHLN-CA, SUN (HD), MSG (HD)
Last 10: Tampa Bay 7-2-1; New Jersey 1-9-0
Season series: First of four meetings this season. The Devils won the first three matchups on the 2009-10 slate, two by shootout, but the Lightning took the finale in bizarre fashion -- they led 3-0 at the Prudential Center on Jan. 8, 2010, when the lights went out with 9:12 left in the second period and the remainder of the game had to be postponed. The teams returned two days later -- each played a game in another city in between -- and Tampa Bay finished off a 4-2 victory.
Big story: Martin Brodeur has sat as backup Johan Hedberg started four of the last five games, but he'll be back in the net for New Jersey on Sunday. Brodeur actually played most of Saturday afternoon's game in Philadelphia after Hedberg gave up two first-period goals and got the hook, and he stopped all 19 shots he faced, suggesting the time off he's been given to watch and work on his game in practice might have been well-served.
Lightning: A two-goal third period was necessary Saturday night in Ottawa for Tampa Bay to rally for a 2-1 win and hold on to first place in the Southeast Division. After the Lightning were routed by the Penguins earlier in the week they trailed the Senators 1-0 after 40 minutes before Adam Hall and Martin St. Louis scored in the first six minutes of the third. Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves as the Bolts escaped with two points.
"Some will say we won that one," coach Guy Boucher said. "We did bounce back, but I want a lot more than that.
"We usually come out with a lot more desire than that. We need to be better."
Devils: Since the beginning of December, New Jersey has lost 15 of 17 games. While the Devils haven't been picking up points lately, they've generally been playing competitive hockey, which was the case against the Flyers during a home-and-home in which they lost 4-2 on home ice Thursday and 2-1 in Philadelphia on Saturday. After Brodeur relieved and settled things down, they got a fluke goal from defenseman Andy Greene to halve their deficit, but couldn't manage the equalizer.
"We're making progress. I think it's a good game we played tonight," coach Jacques Lemaire said.
"They really tried to get back and tie it at the end. We did a lot of good things. You know, the guys, they never stopped and this is what we're working on. It would be nice to get a point just to feel good about our work, but it didn't happen."
Who's hot: Neither team has been lighting it up offensively of late, but St. Louis has 7 goals and 15 points in his last 11 games for the Lightning. Roloson has given up just one goal in his two victories since being acquired from the Islanders.
Injury report: Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith (knee) is on injured reserve and forward Mattias Ritola (ear) was out of the lineup Saturday. … New Jersey assigned forward Jacob Josefson to AHL Albany as he works his way back from a hand injury. Forward Zach Parise (knee) and defensemen Bryce Salvador (concussion) and Matt Taormina (ankle) remain on injured reserve.
Stat pack: Steven Stamkos had 5 goals against the Devils last season and has 6 goals in eight career games against them. … Brodeur has a lifetime record of 31-15-7 against the Lightning with a 2.05 goals-against average and five shutouts.
Puck drop: Stamkos, who has just 1 assist over his last four games, understood the message Boucher conveyed following Saturday's narrow win.
"We have standards on our team and he wants the best from us in every game," Stamkos said. "At the end of the day it's a win for us, but we just need to start better, have that focus from the start of the game and that's what Guy said to us pretty loudly."