NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Devils' veteran presence made the difference in a 3-0 whitewash against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night at Prudential Center.
"Anytime you lose a game and you sit here and say 'I thought we played well and lost,' it's disappointing," head coach Jon Cooper said. "We made some colossal errors that cost us and they capitalized.
"I didn't think it was one of those games where they it took to us," he said. "I thought they took advantage of what we gave them and we burned tonight."
Jaromir Jagr and Dainius Zubrus, two of the older players in the league, especially compared to the majority of the Bolts' lineup, combined for four points to help lift New Jersey to just their second win in the month of December.
Martin Brodeur, the first star of the night, was awarded his 124th career shutout.
On the other hand, the Lightning have now lost seven straight matchups on the road.
"The one thing that's saved us is we've been pretty good at home," Cooper said. "We need to be a .500 team on the road and we've dipped."
After 25:45 of scoreless hockey the best scoring opportunity of the night for either team came from Martin St. Louis early in the second period. Picking up the puck in the slot, St. Louis took a shot at Brodeur, but the Devils' netminder came up with the save glove side to keep the game locked at zero.
Damien Brunner finally opened up scoring for the Devils after almost 40 minutes had passed. Eric Gelinas sent Brunner a pass in the neutral zone and quickly zoomed down the slot; scoring with some quick hands on Anders Lindback's glove side at 15:37.
After just putting six shots on net in the first period, the Lightning offensive came alive and added 14 more shots in the second period for a 20-12 shot advantage after two.
"We were being a little to pretty in the first period and looking for the perfect play," Alex Killorn said. "Brodeur is a great goalie we just tried to throw the puck at his feet and get rebounds to the net."
Zubrus increased New Jersey's lead to 3-0 against Tampa Bay with back-to-back goals less than three minutes a part in the third. The first came after forechecking Eric Brewer, as he then zoomed in front of Lindback's net. Jagr sent him a pass from behind the net and Zubrus finished with the tally.
The next came after Lindback stopped Jagr's initial shot. Zubrus then tucked away the rebound for a three-goal lead.
In a last attempt to salvage the game, Cooper pulled Lindback in favor of six attackers on the ice for more than four minutes to end the game. Yet, Brodeur was the difference for New Jersey, earning the victory.
"We have to turn the page," Cooper said. "We have Detroit in less than 24 hours and we have to get ready and play like we did tonight without the errors."
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay immediately heads to Detroit in preparation for a 5 p.m. game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. It's the second meeting between the two clubs in four days. The Lightning then close out a three-game road trip against the Islanders in New York on Tuesday.