In a matchup between two of the NHL’s three stars of the week, score one for the goaltender.
After play was suspended halfway through the second period on Friday night due to a partial power outage inside the Prudential Center, the play of Lightning net minder Mike Smith continued to be lights out much like the situation prior to Sunday’s restart.
Smith held a 3-0 lead through a period and a half on Friday, but even after the lights went dim, the NHL’s second star of the week continued to shine bright.
The Devils’ Jamie Langenbrunner tallied an assist in the contest, but Smith stopped 33 of 35 shots in his eighth consecutive start to lead the Lightning to a 4-2 victory, while snapping New Jersey’s six-game home winning streak.
Smith has gone unbeaten in regulation in six out of his last eight starts, posting five wins.
Steven Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay, moving into fifth place among NHL leaders in goals, and also tied a career-high three points.
Steve Downie and Brandon Bochenski also scored for Tampa Bay, winners of six of its last 10, and Martin St. Louis extended his point streak to 10 consecutive games with a pair of assists.
Downie opened scoring on the power play at 6:58 in the first period after deflecting Kurtis Foster’s slap shot into the back of the net. Downie has eight points in as many contests.
“This morning we talked about how we were in a slump [on the power play],” Foster said. “We just needed to get our shots on net, but Downie did a great job of screening and got a nice tip-in there. You have to keep it simple and have got to keep moving forward because New Jersey is a team that’s going to sit back, play good defense and wait for us to make mistakes.”
Bochenski, who led the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals in goals and points at the time of his recall on Jan. 2, extended the Lightning lead in the second period with the man advantage by scoring his first NHL goal since Apr. 1, 2008. Foster tallied his second helper on the night, tying his season-high mark.
“The puck kind of bounced through and I happened to be standing in the middle just in the right spot,” Bochenski said. “The more chances I get to shoot, the more chances I get to score.”
Tampa Bay went up 3-0 at 10:04 in the middle frame on Stamkos’ first of two goals.
Travis Zajac finally got the Devils on the board approximately halfway through the final period, but the Bolts regained the three-goal lead on Stamkos’ 23rd of the season. The second-year forward one-timed a slap shot from the slot after St. Louis outraced a Devils defenseman to the puck before spinning around and blindly feeding the tape-to-tape pass right to Stamkos who buried the puck past net minder Yann Danis.
Zach Parise’s goal at 19:26 cut the Lightning lead in half, but the comeback effort fell short as the Bolts wrapped up their three-game road trip with a win, as well as their 44th point of the season.
“I can’t say I’ve experienced [a delay] that long [Friday],” assistant coach Adam Oates said. “It was definitely frustrating, but it’s a hard thing. Obviously we had the momentum and we wanted to keep it going, but I also think it was a good test for us.”
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