Late penalties cost Lightning against Devils

Jim Hague, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher didn't want to talk about three third-period penalties -- one against him for unsportsmanlike conduct -- that doomed his team Thursday night and sent them to their third straight loss, a 4-2 setback at the hands of the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
When asked about the penalties 18 seconds apart to Martin St. Louis for tripping and Adam Hall for high sticking, Boucher said, "I didn't see anything."
"I've watched the video already and I think I'll have to watch it another 20 times to see something," Boucher said.
The Lightning trailed, 2-1, when the two penalties were called, then Boucher was whistled himself. It gave the Devils a 5-on-3 power play and New Jersey jumped all over it.
Andy Greene scored the first power play goal with 4:58 left, then Patrik Elias added the second score just 14 seconds later, pushing the lead to 4-1.
Matt Carle scored a goal with 2:15 remaining, but it was for naught as the Lightning (6-4-0) fell for the third straight game, while the Devils won for the third straight time, improving to 6-1-3 overall and 4-0-1 at home.
Tampa Bay lost its third straight after winning five straight prior.
"We didn't capitalize on our chances," Boucher said. "It's been hurting us the last three games. We were right there, getting looks and scoring chances and didn't get it done."
Once again, the Devils' penalty killing unit came up big, stopping the Lightning on four power-play opportunities. The Devils have allowed just six goals in 49 chances this season.
"We took advantage of their penalty problems in the third and that was it," Brodeur said. "I have a lot of respect for that team. They have a lot of great players. We certainly didn't want to get into an offensive game with them. We stayed with our game and won. We played well killing penalties again and it's been like that for the last three games. We had to kill three or four penalties in the second period and even scored on one, so that was a bonus."
Adam Henrique also scored a goal, his third in just five games since his return from a thumb injury, in the second period.
Nate Thompson and Matthew Carle each scored a goal for Tampa Bay. Carle's goal came with just 2:13 left in the game. Anders Lindback stopped 23 shots in goal for the Lightning.
In the opening stages of the second period, Anton Volchenkov fired a slap shot from the blue line that Lindback thought he had in his catching glove. But the puck trickled out to Henrique, who backhanded the puck past Lindback for the 1-0 New Jersey lead.
"I didn't know if he (Lindbeck) didn't see it or not," Henrique said. "I saw it jump out (of his glove) and I took a poke at it. I've been in good position to score. I have felt good since I came back. When things come along like that, I have to take advantage of it. We're playing with a lot of good chemistry and we're getting good chances. It's what we need to keep things going."
The Lightning drew even on a poor read by Brodeur, who thought he could clear the puck out of his zone, but put it directly on the stick of Devils-killer St. Louis.
St. Louis, who entered the game with 18 goals and 23 assists in 45 games against the Devils, including a hat trick last year, made a perfect pass to Thompson alone in front. Thompson then knocked it past Brodeur with 6:41 left in the second period, tying the game at 1-1.
The Devils then took the lead with a shorthanded goal with 2:26 left in the second. Kovalchuk made a steal in his own end, then skated in two-on-one with Travis Zajac. Kovalchuk kept the puck and fired a low shot past Lindback to his right, giving New Jersey a 2-1 lead. It was Kovalchuk's third goal of the season and his second shorthanded score.
The Devils then put the game away by capitalizing on the Lightning's third period penalties.
"I thought we were very good, holding a team like that, with that kind of an offense, to just 19 shots," Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's exactly the kind of game we needed to play."
"We were expecting teams to play us tight," Boucher said. "We just haven't overcome that lately. But every day is a new day. We'll see what happens in Boston."
NOTES: Before the game, the Devils announced a rare trade with the team they faced for the Stanley Cup Finals last June. The Devils acquired center Andrei Loktionov from the Los Angeles Kings for a fifth-round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. The 22-year-old Loktionov, who was assigned to the Devils' AHL affiliate in Albany, had seven goals and seven assists for the Kings during his career. ... The Devils scratched workhorse forward Dainius Zubrus, who has what the team has called "an upper body injury." Defenseman Henrik Tallinder was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. ... The 18-year-old rookie Stefan Matteau, who was a healthy scratch against the Rangers Tuesday night, got the start at left wing on the same line with Kovalchuk and Zajac, so it appears as if Matteau will not go to the juniors anytime soon. ... Not anticipating a physical game, Lightning coach Guy Boucher scratched bruising defenseman Brian Lee and strong-armed right wing B.J. Crombeen. ... Since the 2009-10 season, no NHL player has scored more than Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, who has 163 goals since that campaign, far ahead of Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who has 122. ... It was the 1,199th career game for Brodeur, who will become the 93rd player in NHL history to reach the 1,200-game plateau.

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