Lightning, Devils meet hoping to end respective struggles
(Sports Network) - A couple of struggling teams will aim for the win column Tuesday in Newark, as the New Jersey Devils welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Prudential Center.
The Devils are 0-4-1 during a five-game slide, while Tampa Bay has lost six straight -- all in regulation.
New Jersey, the defending Eastern Conference champions, began the season with an 8-1-3 mark, but is 2-6-2 in 10 games since that strong start. As a result, the Devils have dropped to seventh in the East, where they are two points ahead of rival Philadelphia.
The Lightning, meanwhile, began the campaign 6-1-0 before posting a 3-11-1 record over their last 15 games. Tampa is currently 13th in the East and two points ahead of Washington and Florida.
New Jersey recorded a 4-2 win over the visiting Lightning on Feb. 7, giving the Devils wins in two straight and five of the last six encounters in this series. Tampa Bay has lost four of five and nine of its past 11 games in the Garden State.
Both clubs are coming off losses on Monday, as Jersey dropped a 4-2 decision at Toronto and Tampa Bay also lost in regulation at Pittsburgh.
The Maple Leafs burned New Jersey with three goals in the third period as Jay McClement, Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel all scored in the last 20 minutes for the home team.
Marek Zidlicky registered both goals in the loss and Ryan Carter added assists on both for the Devils. Johan Hedberg allowed all four goals on 23 shots as he continued to fill in for the injured Martin Brodeur.
"We played well enough to win. We need some saves," said Hedberg. "I have to take that upon me. I have to play better for us to get out of this. I know that I have to be better. When we need a save I have to be there, especially when it's hard for us to get a win."
Brodeur is still dealing with a sore back and is expected to sit out a sixth straight game on Tuesday. That means Hedberg will likely get the start again and Keith Kinkaid will serve as the backup.
Anders Lindback will be in net for Tampa Bay on Tuesday after Mathieu Garon suffered an injury in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Penguins. Garon started in net for the Lightning but left just 2:19 into the second period with an undisclosed injury. He stopped 12-of-13 shots while Lindback allowed two goals on 18 shots in the loss.
Evgeni Malkin, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, returned from a four-game absence to post a goal and an assist in Pittsburgh's win on Monday. Steven Stamkos scored twice in the loss, bringing his NHL-leading goal total to 17.
Tom Pyatt also scored for the Lightning and Martin St. Louis posted a pair of assists.
"The players now what we want to do and how to do it," said Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher. "We were playing hard and we were playing good, but we sabotaged ourselves with turnovers. It's important that we break those habits of being impatient."
The Lightning will try for their first win of a four-game road trip when they close the swing on Tuesday. Tampa Bay is 3-8-0 as the guest this season, while New Jersey is 6-2-2 as the host.