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game recap

Lightning defeat Devils to keep pace in Atlantic

But Tampa Bay captain Stamkos out 1-3 months

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning won their game Saturday but found out afterward they lost Steven Stamkos.

Brian Boyle scored a power-play goal with 8:28 remaining in the third period to help the Lightning defeat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 at Amalie Arena.

Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning (45-28-5), who moved closer to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and remained two points behind the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division. Florida defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Saturday.

The Lightning played without Stamkos, who will have surgery Monday to remove a blood clot from his right collarbone and is expected to be sidelined 1-3 months.

"It's an opportunity for some other guys to eat up some of those minutes," Boyle said. "But it's a hole, with the leadership he brings and the skill and talent. Knowing him, he's going to work hard to come back as quickly as he can."

Video: NJD@TBL: Boyle's rebound shot slips under Schneider

Tampa Bay went 4-2-0 on a six-game homestand and will finish the regular season with four games on the road.

"It was paramount to get a win, we couldn't go .500 on this homestand," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We still have pressure to go win on the road, but less pressure than we had two and a half hours ago."

Boyle's goal came after the Devils were called for too many men on the ice. Nikita Nesterov shot from the point, and Boyle, in front of the net, fought for the rebound and scored past goalie Cory Schneider.

"As we go along we're going to have to be very attentive to detail," Boyle said. "We know how we're supposed to play and we have to demand it from one another."

Video: NJD@TBL: Hedman beats Schneider with long deflection

Cooper said the Lightning will have to rely on the type of goals that Boyle scored Saturday, especially as the games get tighter in the playoffs and without Stamkos in the lineup.

"When we watch the tape [Sunday] we'll show the guys what's working and what doesn't work," Cooper said. "I thought Boyle had a really good game and he's a real big man down low. A guy of that size (6-foot-7, 243 pounds), it's hard for a goaltender to find pucks, with him down there."

Adam Henrique scored his 28th goal of the season for the Devils (37-34-8), who were eliminated from the playoffs earlier Saturday when the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Ottawa Senators.

Henrique tied the game at 1-1 on a power-play goal at 19:32 of the second period. He came in late on the rush, recovered a loose puck, and took a wrist shot past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.

"We played well, we had a much better first 40 minutes I thought," Schneider said. "Then obviously in the first half of the third they came out harder than we did. We took a lot of penalties and a lot of them were unnecessary; it cost us. That's something we can control and we need to be better at."

Video: NJD@TBL: Henrique ties the game on the power play

Hedman gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 9:03 of the second period when he took a pass from Ondrej Palat at the right circle and put a wrist shot past Schneider on the stick side.

Kucherov scored into an empty net with 33 seconds remaining, his NHL career-high 30th goal of the season.

"This was a huge win for us," Hedman said. "We did a lot of good stuff in that third period and the special teams came up big in the third. We created a lot of opportunities and we have to keep it going. We still have to win more games to get in [the playoffs]."

Stamkos will miss at least the start of Tampa Bay's attempt to repeat as a Stanley Cup finalist (the playoffs begin April 13). He leads the Lightning with 36 goals and 64 points.

"Obviously this situation is extremely disappointing because I wanted to help my team clinch a playoff spot and prepare for the start of the postseason," Stamkos said in a statement. "During my recovery I will do all I can to help my teammates, and I hope to rejoin them soon in the Stanley Cup Playoffs."

Video: Boyle scores go-ahead goal, Lightning beat Devils 3-1

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