NEWARK, N.J. - Two future Hall of Famers did enough to put an end to the Tampa Bay Lightning's winning ways.
Jaromir Jagr moved to second all-time in game-winning goals with the 119th of his career, surpassing Phil Esposito and putting him two behind Gordie Howe, while Martin Broduer came up with saves at key moments to stymie what little offense the Lightning could muster, finishing with 16 saves in a 2-1 New Jersey victory in front of an announced crowd of 13,501 at Prudential Center.
Steven Stamkos had the only goal of the game for the Lightning as they had their three-game winning streak snapped, and their 17 shots on goal were one off a season low.
“If you are going to get less than 20 shots in a hockey game, that's not very hard to play against,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I know Marty Brodeur is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he could have had a cigarette and a cup of coffee and played that game, and that's what is frustrating.”
The Lightning started the game as if they were out in the city too late the night before.
Showing little energy, and with nothing going on to wake them up, the Lightning were outshot 10-4 in the opening period while Tampa Bay only attempted seven shots total (two were blocked and one missed the net).
“We weren't ready to start the game,” Stamkos said. “We weren't making good plays, we weren't poised with the puck and a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers. You can't afford to do that.”
Tyler Johnson had a chance to provide some energy when he took a pass from Ondrej Palat that squeezed between two New Jersey defenders to spring him for a breakaway, but Brodeur was able to get a piece of the puck and send the shot wide at 16:07.
Early in the second, Tampa Bay had the chance to grab some momentum when Anton Volchenkov was called for interference 21 seconds into the second period. Instead, it wound up leading to a goal for the Devils. Matt Carle's attempted pass in the New Jersey zone was intercepted by Adam Henrique, who finished off a cross-ice pass from Patrick Elias for a one-timer past Bishop at 1:36.
That wasn't enough to wake up the Lightning, as another turnover, this time by Marty St. Louis just inside the offensive zone as he whiffed on a pass attempt. That allowed Jagr to skate in alone on a breakaway, and he was able to roof a shot over the glove of Bishop at 10:54. It was the ninth turnover of the game for the Lightning.
“It's a simple play, a D to D pass and it went under my toe (of the stick), I fanned on it, and it's a nothing play that changed it to a pretty big play for them,” St. Louis said. “I was praying that Bish could come up with the save, he's made some pretty big saves for us this year, but it just didn't happen on that one.
“So that one's on me.”
That led to Cooper letting his team know he was not pleased with how things were transpiring to that point with a forceful discussion at the bench.
That proved to be a jolt the Lightning needed to come alive, as just after Alex Killorn was robbed in front by Brodeur, the Tampa Bay winger drew a hooking call to put the Lightning on their second power play of the game. Just over a minute into the man advantage, Stamkos redirected a Teddy Purcell pass that Brodeur stopped but failed to corral, allowing Stamkos to poke the rebound in while on the seat of his pants at 15:23 to make it 2-1. The goal was the ninth of the season for Stamkos and his fourth in the past four games.
Tampa Bay closed the period with an 8-1 shot advantage following the Jagr goal, which accounted for nearly half of Tampa Bay's final shot total.
That momentum did not carry over into the third period, however, as the Lightning failed to generate many scoring chances, finishing with just four shots on goal in the third.
“All (Brodeur) had to do (in the third) was make four stops and win a hockey game, seems simple enough to me,” Cooper said. “We sustain pressure (late in the second) we get back into the game and we could have had the lead. So why can't we do that for more than six minutes a game? That's the frustrating part. And the guys are working hard, and in their heads they are trying to make plays, and I get that. But sometimes making a play is making the simple play, and we've gotten away from that.”