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Tampa Bay Lightning At New Jersey Devils: Hot Lightning Post Tough Test For Devils

(Sports Network) - The last time the Devils and Lightning met in New Jersey, the game had to be stretched out over three days due to a light malfunction at the Prudential Center. Unfortunately for the Devils, there has been nothing lights out about their offense this year.

New Jersey aims to avoid a fifth straight setback this evening as it battles Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay in the Garden State.

The Devils carried a 10-game series winning streak into the most recent meeting between these clubs on Jan. 8 of last year, but the Lighting jumped out to a 3-0 lead before play was halted with 9:12 left in the second period due to a light issue. Unable to fix the problem, the game was delayed for two days before the Lightning finally posted a 4-2 victory to end a five-game losing streak in New Jersey.

That victory was the Lightning's first over the Devils since Oct. 4, 2007, but they may find recording a second straight victory a little easier tonight. New Jersey has lost 15 of its last 17 games and has scored an NHL-low 70 goals on the season.

The Devils' offense, without former captain Jamie Langenbrunner after he was traded to Dallas on Friday, struggled again on Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers. Andy Greene had the lone goal as his club dropped its 11th straight on the road. New Jersey's 10-29-2 mark at the midway point is its worst since going 8-30-2 during an 80-game 1983-84 season and it currently sits last in the NHL with just 22 points.

Johan Hedberg started his third straight game and suffered the loss, pulled after giving up two goals on 10 shots in almost 15 minutes of action. Martin Brodeur finished the contest by halting all 19 shots faced.

"You know, they really tried to get back and tie it at the end," said Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire, whose club fell to 1-7 under his watch since the firing of John MacLean. "We did a lot of good things. The guys never stopped. This is what we're working on. It would be nice to get a point just to feel good about our work but it didn't happen."

New Jersey, which has lost six of its last seven at home, could go back to Brodeur tonight. Its veteran goaltender had won seven straight starts over the Lightning before being credited with the loss in the last meeting. Brodeur began the game in net, but did not resume his role between the pipes when it was continued two days later.

Hedberg, meanwhile, is 6-6-2 with a tie and 3.29 goals-against average lifetime versus the Lightning.

Whomever the Devils start in net will face a Lightning club that leads the Southeast Division by a point over the Capitals and posted a tight 2-1 victory on Saturday over Ottawa. After giving up a goal in the second period,Dwayne Roloson made 13 saves in the third period and both Adam Hall and Martin St. Louis scored in the frame to rally Tampa Bay to the victory.

"We played a team that was working hard and we played a tight game," said Tampa head coach Guy Boucher. "We let up in the second period and it almost cost us. I talked to the guys between periods and addressed what I wanted."

Roloson ended with 31 saves for the Lightning, who were coming off an 8-1 defeat at Pittsburgh on Wednesday but won for the fourth time in five games. The Lighting are also 5-1-2 in their last eight on the road and close out a four-game swing this evening.

Roloson is 2-6-0 with a pair of ties and 2.66 GAA versus the Devils, while Dan Ellis has never before faced them.

St. Louis, who posted his 18th goal and 52nd point of the season yesterday, had two assists in the last meeting with the Devils, giving him four goals and 13 helpers in his last 14 against them.

Next Game

Tampa Bay Lightning
@ New Jersey Devils

Sunday, Jan 9, 2011, 5:00 PM EST
Prudential Center

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