The New Jersey Devils keep rolling right along.
The Devils won their third straight– improving to 6-1-3– with a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday at Prudential Center.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who had not scored in four games entering Thursday’s game, had a goal– shorthanded, which put them ahead for good– and an assist. Patrik Elias had his second consecutive three-point game, with a goal and and two assists.
Andy Greene had the game-winning goal and an assist, and Adam Henrique scored in his third straight game. Martin Brodeur stopped 17 shots to earn his fifth win.
I know no one wants to hear Zach Parise‘s name, but Henrique’s goal was Parise-esque.
Henrique took the rebound on Anton Volchenkov‘s point shot and, from his knees, beat Tampa Bay goaltender Andreas Lindback, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead.
The line of Henrique-Elias and David Clarkson was New Jersey’s best, generating eight shots and plenty of chances. Clarkson also got the primary assist on Greene’s power-play goal, registering a point in his third straight game.
Ken Daneyko said during the second period that despite Kovalchuk’s scoreless drought, Devils fans “should not be worried.”
Kovalchuk ended up proving the former Devils defensive great right.
Kovalchuk scored his second shorthanded goal of this year, beating Lindback over the glove at 17:34 of the second period. It was the second two-on-one break Kovalchuk had shorthanded, the first ended up as a turnover when he tried a pass to Travis Zajac.
Kovalchuk, who Pete DeBoer referred to as “too unselfish” through his cold stretch, decided to be a little selfish.
“(Salo) tried to fake me, and I intercepted the pass,” Kovalchuk told MSG-Plus’ Deb Placey. “It was the second two-on-one. I had to shoot this time.”
The Devils’ highest-paid player had been quiet before the shorthanded goal, but Chico Resch said on the broadcast he thought Kovalchuk looked loose. I agree. He was buzzing and had three power play shots in the second, as well.
Tampa Bay, after scoring five or more goals in five of its first seven games, has all of a sudden lost three straight.
Some writer said this club isn’t yet a contender, and I truly believe the Lightning’s last three games have proven that. Scoring seven or eight goals is all fine and dandy when you’re at home. But in three games — against the Rangers, Flyers and Devils — Tampa Bay is 0-3.
The Lightning were 0-for-4 on their power play, generating just one shot on net, and surrendering Kovalchuk’s shorty. Tampa Bay’s explosive power play is suddenly in a dry spell and hasn’t scored with a man-advantage in their last eight tries.
Tampa Bay’s offense has way too much firepower to be held down for much longer. But, New Jersey did a remarkable job slowing Tampa Bay’s PP.
The Devils played a very-Devils third period.
Despite Steven Stamkos’ extraordinary try that he duffed wide, the final frame featured plenty of neutral-zone action, few many scoring chances and simple defensive play on New Jersey’s end.
The Devils also successfully killed more than four minutes when they drew two penalties, and Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher took a minor for abuse of officials. Greene and Elias scored a pair of goals just 14 seconds apart.
Matt Carle did score for Tampa Bay at 17:45 of the third, making the game interesting.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic:
N.Y. Rangers (5-5-0) 4, N.Y. Islanders (4-5-1) 1
Florida (4-5-1) 3, Philadelphia (4-6-1) 2 (SO)
Pittsburgh (8-3-0) 5, Washington (2-8-1) 2.
Up Next: The Devils will host the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, weather-permitting, at 1 p.m.
Pat Pickens is a lifelong Devils-fan and New Jersey native. To pay the bills, he works as a sports reporter for Hearst in Connecticut. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter here.