Devils aim to rebound in Tampa Bay
DEVILS (14-13-1) at LIGHTNING (12-15-2)
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New Jersey 4-6-0; Tampa Bay 3-7-0.
This is the second of four season meetings between these Eastern Conference foes. On Nov. 19, New Jersey snapped Tampa Bay's six-game winning streak at the St. Pete Times Forum with a 4-2 victory. Martin Brodeur
held the Bolts scoreless for 51 minutes and finished with 21 saves.
Two teams accustomed to being in the playoff hunt at this point in the season are currently residing near the Eastern Conference basement. Recent struggles have New Jersey (No. 12) and Tampa Bay (13) desperate for a victory. The Bolts have one win in seven outings, while the Devils haven't won in regulation since Nov. 25.
After two narrow wins over Toronto (in overtime) and Ottawa (in the shootout), New Jersey fell 2-1 Saturday afternoon to Montreal in the Prudential Center. Zach Parise
missed a penalty shot to tie it with 49.4 seconds to play and New Jersey allowed just its second power-play goal at home this season, but coach Peter DeBoer refused to blame the loss on any one play.
"The game wasn't lost on that play," DeBoer said. "That's the key to it. We had opportunities at different points in the game, I thought, to grab control, especially early, and we didn't.
"It's disappointing. We wanted to obviously win. I thought our failure was in not capitalizing early in the game. I thought in the first period, we had an opportunity to maybe even get a couple with the way we started. We didn't capitalize, we took some offensive-zone penalties that kind of took our momentum away. We still had a chance to pick up some points."
December has not been kind to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have just one point from five games – a shootout win over the New York Rangers – all of which have come against Eastern Conference rivals. Ryan Shannon gave Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead Saturday in Philadelphia, but the Flyers reeled off three straight to build what would prove to be an insurmountable advantage. Squandering an early lead has become a Bolt trademark, as they've gotten the first goal in four of their last five.
"We were very aggressive, finished our checks and gave them a hard time getting out of their zone," Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. "We were really happy with the way we played in that first period."
The subsequent offensive drop won't be helped by the continued absence of alternate captain and second-leading scorer Martin St. Louis, who is out indefinitely with facial and nasal fractures after Dominic Moore struck him with a puck during a pregame skate two games ago.
Parise had a six-game point streak snapped against Montreal. The winger had 2 goals and 6 assists over that span. … Dominic Moore had an assist against the Flyers, but a shorthanded goal and shootout winner two games ago against the Rangers helped get the slumping winger's season back on track.
For the Devils, blueliner Anton Volchenkov
is doubtful for Monday's game with a hand injury. Andy Greene
(broken toe), Cam Janssen
(bruised chest), Jacob Josefson
(right clavicle surgery) and Travis Zajac
(left Achilles surgery) are all on injured reserve. … In addition to St. Louis, Tampa Bay is without defenseman Pavel Kubina (lower body). Mattias Ohlund (right knee surgery) and Scott Jackson (left knee surgery) have missed the entire season.
After the loss to the Flyers in which the Bolts went 1-4 on the man advantage, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said the difference between this season and last was power-play conversion. Without special-teamer St. Louis, chances are slim Tampa Bay will improve against New Jersey's top ranked penalty kill (93.4 percent).
"The shootout, I'm not saying it doesn't matter, but at least if you miss there, a couple of other guys have the opportunity. I missed a penalty shot late in the game to tie it up. It's a little different. A little more pressure on it." – Devils captain Zach Parise
on his missed penalty shot Saturday afternoon