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Lightning 5, Devils 2

The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- Nate Thompson scored twice, the first two-goal game of his career, and added an assist, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 victory over the sputtering New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.

The win enabled the Lightning (10-12-1) to snap a five-game losing streak, while the Devils, the defending Eastern Conference champions, lost for the sixth straight time and dropped to 10-8-5 overall. In a span of three weeks, the Devils have dropped from first place in the Eastern Conference to now holding a share of the eighth spot with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Martin St. Louis and Alexander Killorn each had a goal and an assist and Cory Conacher and Vincent Lacavalier had two assists each for the Lightning.

The victory was the eighth for Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback, who stopped 25 shots.

The Devils spoiled Lindback's shutout bid with a goal with 6:16 remaining by Adam Henrique on a wraparound score past Lindback. Patrik Elias added a power-play goal with 4:45 remaining.

B.J. Crombeen scored an empty-net goal to close out the scoring for Tampa Bay with 1:20 left.

The Devils' lackluster play of late continued in the first period. Although they outshot the Lightning 10-4 during the period, the Devils didn't have any legitimate scoring chances.

The Lightning got on the board first, when Nate Thompson scored his fourth goal of the season. Rookie Ondrej Palat, playing in only his second career NHL game, found Thompson alone in front and Thompson knocked it past Johan Hedberg with just 2:56 remaining in the first period.

It marked the seventh straight game that New Jersey surrendered the game's first goal.

Tampa Bay pushed the lead to 2-0 when Martin St. Louis benefitted from an odd man rush off a scoring attempt from the Devils' Adam Henrique. St. Louis carried the puck out of his own zone, then fed Lecavalier, who gave it to Killorn, who then slid it across to the streaking St. Louis, who tallied his sixth goal of the season.

The second goal caused some Devils fans to chant "Kinkaid, Kinkaid," in honor of Keith Kinkaid, the rookie goalie who was recalled from the minors when Martin Brodeur went on the injured list with a bad back.

After Hedberg gave up the third goal of the game and the 24th allowed over the last six games, DeBoer pulled the 39-year-old veteran in favor of the 23-year-old rookie, much to the joy of the crowd.

The third goal was scored by rookie Killorn, with assists going to Lecavalier and St. Louis at the 13:13 mark, sending Hedberg to the bench.

Kinkaid made his first NHL save on a slap shot by Pierre-Cedric Labrie with 1:37 remaining in the second period.

The highlight of the evening came when Kinkaid stopped Steven Stamkos on a breakaway, going spread eagle to stop Stamkos on the right side with a pad save with his left leg.

Thompson added his second goal of the game in the third period, the first two-goal game of his career. He also scored a goal against the Devils on Feb. 7, meaning that three of his five goals this season have been scored against New Jersey.

NOTES: The Devils place forward Bobby Butler on waivers Monday and was quickly claimed by Nashville. Butler had one goal and one assist in 14 games after signing during the offseason from Ottawa. The ascension of Andrei Loktionov as a contributing performer made Butler expendable. Lotkionov, acquired by the Devils in a Feb. 6 trade with the Los Angeles Kings, has scored three goals and added two assists in his last six games with New Jersey. ... There was some talk that Devils coach Peter DeBoer might give rookie Kinkaid his first start in net, but DeBoer never wavered with the decision and stayed with Hedberg, even though it meant the 39-year-old veteran would have to play on consecutive nights. That all changed when DeBoer yanked Hedberg in the middle of the second period. ... The 23-year-old Kinkaid became the youngest goalie to play for the Devils since former first round pick Jean-Francois Damphousse in 2002. ... Starting goalie Martin Brodeur remains on the injured list with a bad back. Brodeur has missed the last five games and there's no timetable for his return ... Both teams entered Tuesday night's game with a five-game losing streak. ... The Lightning scratched left wing Benoit Pouliot, who left the game against Boston on March 2 with an upper body injury and has not returned to action. Pouliot has six goals and eight assists in 21 games for the Lightning. ... Stamkos, the NHL Player of the Month for February and second in the NHL in scoring, had eight goals in his last nine games ... Lightning forward Palat has only been active for two games, but has collected an assist in each game.
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