The Lightning held the advantage in shots, 15-5. Tampa leads the overall shots, 23-12.
Martin St. Louis broke the scoreless tie at 2:20 of the period. After Steven Stamkos won a faceoff in the Devils zone, Steven Downie passed the puck to St. Louis in the hight slot. His quick wrist shot beat Johan Hedberg for St. Louis' 23rd goal of the season.
Dwayne Roloson made a big save to preserve his team's lead just 23 seconds after they gained it. Ilya Kovalchuk forced a turnover and broke in on goal. With Eric Brewer right behind, Kovalchuk tried to go toward the glove side. Roloson stacked the pads and stoned the Devils' hottest scorer.
Simon Gagne extended the lead to 2-0 at 3:14 of the period. The Devils were once again victimized off the faceoff, as Dainius Zubrus attempted to kick the puck to himself but sent it to the stick of Gagne. The left-winger ripped a shot from the low slot over Hedberg's glove for his 10th goal of the season.
The Devils also lost David Clarkson for most of the period. After throwing a body check, Clarkson fell on the skate of a Lightning defenseman. He cut his wrist open and was immediately brought to the locker room.
If the Lightning can hold on, it would be their first home win over the Devils in their past eight attempts.
Tampa Bay will begin the third period with 51 seconds remaining in Jason Arnott's hooking penalty.
The Lightning's top line generated the first great scoring chance only 32 seconds into the game. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis moved into the Devils zone on a 2-on-1. St. Louis took a pass from Stamkos in the slot, but fired the puck over the crossbar.
The Devils countered with their own chance later in the period. Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer tripped over the linesman, turning the puck over to Kovalchuk. The left-winger fed rookie Nick Palmieri, who tried to deke Dwayne Roloson. His backhanded shot sailed wide of the net.
Tonight, the Devils will look for another win against the Lightning to continue their improbable march to the postseason as both teams square off at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight.
New Jersey, 27 points out of a playoff spot on January 8, used back-to-back games against the Lightning to start their current 16-1-2 run. The Devils defeated the Lightning, 6-3, at home on January 9 and 5-2 at St. Pete Times Forum five days later.
The Devils are looking for their seventh straight win in Tampa and their first nine-game win streak since 2007.
A 1-0 win over the Dallas Stars Tuesday night helped the Devils extend their current win streak to eight games. Scoreless for the first two periods, rookie Nick Palmieri tallied the game's only goal in the final frame. With the Devils on a powerplay, Mark Fayne sent a cross-ice pass to Ilya Kovalchuk, whose stick broke on a shot attempt. Palmieri tipped the fluttering puck past Stars' goalie Kari Lehtonen for the goal.
The assist extended Kovalchuk's point streak to 11 games, the longest of his career.
Tampa Bay snapped a three-game losing streak after dismantling the Phoenix Coyotes, 8-3, Wednesday night. Teddy Purcell recorded his first career hat trick, and Vincent Lecavlier tied a career-high with a five point night. The win pushed Tampa Bay's home record to 6-2-3 on their NHL-record 12 straight home games.
Johan Hedberg will make his eighth straight start for the Devils tonight. Hedberg has won his last seven starts, allowing a total of seven goals in those games. He has allowed only one goal and posted two shutouts in his last three games.
Hedberg has not faced the Lightning this season.
Martin Brodeur, who stopped 63 of 68 shots in the Devils' two games against the Lightning, will once again be the backup.