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New Jersey Devils defeat Tampa Bay Lightning behind Eddie Lack’s 48 saves

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Though no one quite expected a career night from the Devils goaltender, it may have been the Bolts’ own inconsistent play that led to the loss.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where a lot of fans figured the Lightning would take advantage of a struggling Eddie Lack, he went and had a career night, registering 48 saves on 51 shots in the 4-3 New Jersey victory. The Devils goaltender was certainly due for a good start. Coming into tonight, Lack was 1-3 in his four starts and a sluggish .833 save percentage. The Bolts were hoping to grab a needed win a home to put them at the 40-win mark for the season, but the Devils defense and goaltending figured otherwise. The Devils secure two points and provide some cushion in their race to the playoffs.

1st Period 1-1

The Lightning were a little stagnant out of the gates. The Devils’ got on the board first with a wrister by Ben Lovejoy. Anton Stralman possibly screened Andrei Vasilevskiy, obscuring Vasy’s view on a puck that beat him on his glove side.

The Bolts offense continued to lull well into the first ten minutes. Steven Stamkos went to the box and stifled any chances for offense. They weren’t devoid of chances all together but couldn’t connect with the net. It was just after the halfway point in the period when Chris Kunitz tied the game off of a nice feed from Ryan Callahan.

2nd Period 3-2

There were several different penalties throughout the second which resulted in both clubs getting numerous chances to send out their special team units. The Bolts were inconsistent, excelling during one and floundering in another, and really looked a little misplaced tonight in regards to the power-play overall.

There was a stretch of scoring chances that even Lack seemed surprised he was able to get out of without allowing a goal. Comparatively there were power-plays where the Bolts repeatedly allowed odd-man rushes in their own zone. The inconsistency plagued Tampa Bay throughout the night as they were unable to put together smart plays. Mikhail Sergachev directed an errant pass toward Victor Hedman on the blue line and was picked off, though Vasy was able to make the save on the other end. Sergachev was visibly frustrated toward the end of the match.

Despite their struggles, there was some solid play. Brayden Point rushed out to give the Lightning its first lead of the night.

And with that goal Point equaled his jersey number. The excitement was short-lived, however, as the Devils Nico Hischier grabbed a goal on an odd-man rush just seconds later.

Devils forward Miles Wood committed an egregious hit on Vladislav Namestinkov soon after. Leaving his feet to hit a defenseless player worthy of some significant time off the ice, if not an ejection (the refs on the ice decided it was worth two minutes). Andrej Sustr followed after Wood, attempting to support Vladdy, but managed to have his visor split open and slice his face. He would come back later in the third with a a few stitches.

The Bolts struggled to find any consistent zone play for a majority of the game. The Devils were agressive on the kill, and were rewarded with a short-handed goal. Momentum seemed oddly in their favor afterword.

The Lightning went down a man after Victor Hedman was called for tripping 14 minutes into the frame. The Bolts had a few grade-A chances on the kill, with Point and Stammer and Yanni Gourde all finding themselves in the Devils’ zone, but were unable to score.

3rd Period 4-3

To add insult to injury it was Wood [who should not have even been in the game...JustinG.] who put the Devils up two goals within a few minutes into the third.

Earlier in the game Stamkos passed up on a one-time opportunity when he elected to pass it across ice to Gourde. Down two goals here, Stamkos set up shop and put a one-timer away. The goal comes as his 24th of the year and secures second in the league in points, closing in on Calgary FlamesJohnny Gaudreau.

The Lightning pulled Vasy for a lengthy stretch of time toward the end of the frame, but in the end they couldn’t connect. Point was big though, winning multiple face-offs in the Devils zone to give them a chance.

Though the Bolts finished with 51 shots to New Jersey’s 28, two for six on the power-play, were perfect on the kill, and had 27 scoring chances to NJ’s 13, Eddie Lack and the Devils defense were the difference makers in the end.