The New Jersey Devils did everything in their power to secure their bid for the 2012 NHL Playoffs on Thursday night, taking out the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4 at home. Unfortunately, the Washington Capitals didn't hold up their end of the bargain by defeating the Bruins 3-2 in an overtime shootout, technically leaving the door open for the Devils to miss the playoffs.
At 44-28-6 on the season, it would take a lot at this point for New Jersey to fall out of sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Thursday, they certainly proved they have the offensive horsepower for a solid postseason run. New Jersey ended the first period down 1-0, then exploded for four goals in the second to take a 4-3 lead into the third. They added two more in the second to make the score 6-3 before Trevor Smith found net with nine seconds to go to make the score more respectable for the Lightning.
Despite the outburst, no player picked up more than two points for the Devils. Patrik Elias had two assists, and Ilya Kovalchuk had one goal and one assist. Dainius Zubrus, Jacob Josefson, Marek Zidlicky, Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson all found net. Ryan Malone scored three goals for Tampa Bay for the fourth hat trick of his career.