NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at Tampa Bay
(Thursday, March 25th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 2, New Jersey 1
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Brad Richards scored the game-winning goal with 4:58 remaining in the contest to lift Tampa Bay to a 2-1 win over New Jersey at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Pavel Kubina registered the Lightning's other tally, as Tampa Bay pulled off the four-game season sweep of the Devils. Frederik Modin assisted on both goals and Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 18 of the 19 shots he faced to earn the win.
The Lightning ran their unbeaten streak to seven games versus New Jersey (5-0-2), and coupled with Philadelphia's loss to the New York Islanders earlier in the night, moved three points (101) ahead of the Flyers for first place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"You've got to find a way to generate offense and our defense helped out tonight," Tampa Bay head coach John Tortorella said.
Patrik Elias scored the Devils' lone goal, as they lost for the second time in their last three contests. Martin Brodeur made 15 saves on 17 shots faced in the loss.
With Ottawa's win over Montreal, the Devils fell three points behind the Senators for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
"We're not getting the bounces or we're not getting it done," Brodeur said. "That's definitely frustrating because we're a team that usually is able to do that through the years. It's amazing that as of late, we're just having a hard time."
Richards' 24th goal of the season came at the 15:02 mark of the third. Richards took control of the puck behind the net and tried to center a pass to Cory Stillman, who was parked on the doorstep. However, Richards' pass deflected off Viktor Kozlov's skate and slipped under Brodeur's stick for the game-winner.
The Devils pulled Brodeur with 30 seconds remaining in the game, but could not put together a scoring opportunity as Kubina cleared the puck to run out the clock.
"That's the kind of style of playoff hockey," Richards said. "It's gonna be a lot more physical than tonight. We're gonna have a lot more energy. They're gonna have a lot more energy."
Kubina scored his 17th of the season 8:32 into the second period. Modin tracked down a loose puck behind New Jersey's net and threw it out front to a charging Kubina. The defenseman redirected the pass underneath Brodeur's left leg pad for the marker.
With the goal, Kubina set a new Lightning franchise record with goals in a season by a defenseman.
"It's nice to get a franchise record, but I'm not worried about it," Kubina said. "I'm looking forward to the playoffs."
Elias tied the game at 1-1 with 9:22 to go in the game, as he skated into the middle of the left circle and wristed a shot on net. Khabibulin swatted the shot with his blocker, but the puck deflected off and landed in the back of the net for the tally.
The Lightning improved to 31-4-1 when leading after two periods this season.
Tampa Bay improved to 13-4-1 in its last 18 games...The Lightning are now 8-1-3 in their last 12 meetings with the Devils and 22-9-4-2 at home this season...The Devils were 0-for-3 on the power play, while Tampa was 0-for-2.
03/25 23:11:22 ET