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game recap

Lightning add to series lead with Game 4 win against Devils

Kucherov has three points; move closer to advancing in Eastern Conference

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Prudential Center on Wednesday.

J.T. Miller had a goal and two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves for the Lightning, who lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and host Game 5 on Saturday.

"Kucherov tonight flexed his muscles," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "He's been pretty dynamic on the power play, but tonight I thought all-around he was the best player on the ice. He's been playing both sides of the puck, he's been contributing offensively and defensively. ... He's a good part of why we won tonight."

 

[WATCH: All Lightning vs. Devils highlights | Complete Lightning vs. Devils series coverage]

 

Kyle Palmieri scored, and Cory Schneider made 34 saves for the Devils, who went 1-for-6 on the power play.

"Hindsight, you would always like to get more than a one-goal lead," Devils forward Taylor Hall said. "I just thought as the night went on, our power play was a real drag on the group, and the guys on the power play, when you are not scoring and not producing, after seven power plays, it's hard to play with confidence and it is hard to play with poise."

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: Kucherov seals win with empty-net goal

Kucherov made it 2-1 at 15:02 of the first period on a shot from the slot.

"We had so many penalties the last game, giving out so many opportunities on the power play for them (eight)," Kucherov said. "For us, but especially for me, I was [ticked] off and didn't want to lose."

Palmieri gave the Devils a 1-0 lead on a 5-on-3 at 8:23 of the first, taking a one-timer off a pass from Will Butcher. Miller tied the game 1-1 at 11:30, finishing a rush with Steven Stamkos and Kucherov.

Cory Conacher appeared to give the Lightning the lead 51 seconds later, but the Devils challenged that the play was offside and the call on the ice was overturned.

Kucherov scored an empty-net goal with 1:08 remaining for a 3-1 lead. He has nine points (four goals, five assists) in the series.

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: Palmieri scores PPG on one-timer

"It was a good effort by us, but that is why they are dangerous because they can still beat you, even if they don't get a power-play goal ... top line, depth, they've got a lot of ways they can beat you and they found a different way to do it tonight," Schneider said. "We're not one for moral victories right now because it doesn't do you any good. We know we can play and that we are good team, a playoff team, and now we just have to go and extend the series."

Vasilevskiy saved three breakaways, including one by Travis Zajac with the Devils leading 1-0.

"He's a Vezina candidate for a reason and it's unbelievable how hard he competes," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "He wants to win every game, be a difference-maker, and he was again tonight. I'm really happy with the way he played, especially early on when they had some breakaways."

Tampa Bay can advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in four seasons Saturday.

"We can't look at it like it's our series now, but we know we have the momentum going back home and know this is a big opportunity for us, so can't take them lightly," Miller said. "We have a couple days to regroup and get ready for the next game."

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: Vasilevskiy sticks out pad for big save

 

Goal of the game

Kucherov's goal at 15:02 of the first period.

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: Kucherov nets sweet goal in tight

 

Save of the game

Vasilevskiy's save on Travis Zajac at 11:00 of the first period.

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: Vasilevskiy stands tall to deny Zajac

 

Highlight of the game

Miller's goal at 11:30 of the first period.

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: Miller pots Kucherov's dish to tie game

 

They said it

"We had to fight our way to get a spot in the playoffs when no one really believed in us, and now we get to prove ourselves again and go into Tampa and worry about winning one game." -- Devils forward Travis Zajac

 

"That's probably the reason he is going to [the 2018 NHL Awards] in Vegas in June." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Andrei Vasilevskiy

 

Need to know

The Lightning have won their past four Game 4s. ... Schneider started back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 22-23. ... Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen left the game at 16:09 of the first period with an upper-body injury after a hit from Kucherov. Hynes did not have an update after the game. ... Lightning forward Ryan Callahan (upper body) missed his second straight game. ... Tampa Bay, which was 5-for-9 on the power play entering the game, went 0-for-5. ... Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh played in his 100th NHL postseason game. The first 96 were with the New York Rangers.

 

What's next

Game 5 of Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2)

 

Video: Kucherov propels Lightning to 3-1 win in Game 4

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