NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur had a hunch teammate Jaromir Jagr was in for a special night.
It all came down to the fact Brodeur felt Jagr owned him at the morning skate.
"I couldn't stop anything," the goalie said with a grin.
As it turned out, Jagr and Brodeur would play key roles Tuesday in leading the Devils to a 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center.
Brodeur made 16 saves, Jagr scored midway through the second period, and the Devils won two straight games for the first time this season.
Jagr's game-winning goal was the 119th of his NHL career, the most by any player since 1967-68. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Gordie Howe holds the all-time record with 121. Phil Esposito is third with 118.
"I was watching [Esposito] in 1972; I wasn't watching it live because I was just born, but I was watching the tapes," Jagr said. "You have to be pretty lucky to score at the right time. My body is built where I don't get tired, so I scored a lot in the third; that's why I have so many game-winners."
Jagr connected 10:54 into the second period when he stole the puck from Lightning captain Martin St. Louis and broke in 1-on-1 against Ben Bishop before lining a shot over the goalie's right shoulder. That gave the Devils a 2-0 lead.
What was the first thought that popped into Jagr's head?
"Don't get injured," he said. "Don't go too fast. My body is not used to going fast."
Jagr has 684 goals and 1,698 points over 20 NHL seasons. The goal was Jagr's third of the season. The right wing blamed a new set of sticks on his earlier woes.
"I'm 41 years old, so I'm not going to blame myself [for the lack of goals]," Jagr said. "I have to blame something else. I can't blame my hands because they were good to me all my life, so I blame the sticks."
The victory was an all-out team effort by the Devils (3-5-4), who will next host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. The Lightning (8-4-0), who had their three-game winning streak snapped, travel to close out a three-game trip against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
|CAREER GAME-WINNING GOALS
"We're starting to [play that cohesive game]; there were some growing pains the first 10 games with four or five new forwards and some young defensemen," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're starting to play with a little more of the identity we're looking for, which is not giving up a lot, not beating ourselves, being wide open. We're getting longer and longer stretches of that type of hockey, which is a good thing."
Brodeur, who won consecutive starts for the first time since April 18-20, was called upon to make a few big stops in the third period. His best save came with 6:46 remaining when he robbed Valtteri Filppula's backhand at the right post with his left pad. Filppula took a pass from Steven Stamkos in the slot.
"I was worried about Marty [St. Louis] in front of me," Brodeur said. "I thought he would collect the puck and pivot, and try to jam it in. I saw [Filppula] but didn't know it was him and I went across with my skate and hit off the pad."
Brodeur, also 41, acknowledged how impressed he has been with Jagr since he signed a one-year contract this offseason.
"He's been around for a long time, a little longer than me actually," Brodeur said. "This guy is amazing with the way he plays the game. I knew of him, when he was young. But what I've seen in the two months he's been here has been pretty amazing. To see him go and the way he conducts himself in the room and at practice … he has so much to give for this organization."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn't happy with his team's effort against Brodeur (2-2-2).
"When you get less than 20 shots in a hockey game, that's not very hard to play against," Cooper said. "I know Marty Brodeur is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he could have had a cigarette and a cup of coffee and played that game. That's what's frustrating."
Tampa Bay was given its third power play with 4:52 to go when Michael Ryder was sent to the box for hooking. Brodeur's best stop on that advantage came off a rebound attempt by Alex Killorn he turned away with his right pad.
The Lightning lost any momentum they might have established when they were whistled for having too many men on the ice with 2:45 remaining.
Bishop, who entered having won seven of his first eight starts, finished with 20 saves.
The Lightning pared the deficit to 2-1 when Stamkos connected for a power-play goal 15:23 into the second period. After gaining position in the slot, Stamkos deflected a left-circle pass from Teddy Purcell into Brodeur's pads before jamming in his rebound while tumbling to the ice. The goal seemed to ignite Tampa Bay, which began to really pressure New Jersey for the equalizer.
Brodeur, who was making consecutive starts for the first time this season, then made a save on Matt Carle from the slot with 1:50 left in the second to keep his team ahead. Brodeur also made a huge save in the first when he denied Tyler Johnson's breakaway attempt with his glove.
Adam Henrique gave the Devils a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal at 1:36. He received his opportunity after taking the puck away from Carle at the left point before skating down his right wing on a 2-on-1 with Patrik Elias. Henrique fed Elias in the high slot before getting a return pass low in the left circle and snapping a shot home.
Jagr, who was named the game's first star, scored on his breakaway a little over nine minutes later, making five dekes before finally delivering his shot into the top left corner.
"He made a great move," DeBoer said. "I think we need to get someone to chase him in the shootouts."