(Photo by Mark Fischgrund - JSN)

Despite quick start, Devils fall to Lightning in Newark

After jumping out to a 3-1 lead, the New Jersey Devils allowed five unanswered goals as they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-3, at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.

There wasn't much to speak of in the first eight minutes, besides a couple of missed opportunities early by the Devils. However, the luck tilted in New Jersey's favor as Tampa put one in their net. The goal would be credited to Dawson Mercer, his 11th goal of the season, though it would be Jack Hughes' defensive effort forcing the own goal.

The Lightning would come back and answer in a hurry with a goal by Pat Maroon 28 seconds later, tying the game at 1-1. The Devils would keep fighting to take back momentum, outshooting Tampa Bay seven shots to one. That momentum would eventually turn into a goal late in the 1st period, as Yegor Sharangovich netted his 10th goal of the season on the power play.

New Jersey would build on that momentum by opening the second period with a goal on a turnover by Tampa Bay in the defensive zone. It would turn into a three-on-one opportunity that Jack Hughes would take himself for the score, his 14th of the season. Mason Geertsen would take a hooking penalty in the middle of the period that halted the momentum. The Devils penalty kill unit would be up to the task and eliminate the Lightning's high-powered power play threat.

Shortly after killing off the penalty, Tampa Bay's Jan Rutta would take a hooking penalty as well, though nothing came of it from the Devils power play this time. Tampa would answer at even strength late in the period as Steven Stamkos ripped one top shelf from the high slot. Forty-one seconds later, Tampa would take their newfound momentum and tie the game with a deflection goal by Alex Killorn.

Though the Devils had been in absolute control for the better part of the first 40 minutes, the Lightning would capitalize on their late 2nd-period momentum at the seven-minute mark of the 3rd period. Victor Hedman would take a screened shot from the point that would get past the netminder to break the tie.

Tampa Bay put the pedal to the metal as they scored their following goals minutes apart after breaking the tie. Nikita Kucherov and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would be the ones to put the proverbial nail in the Devils coffin tonight, sealing the victory in Newark.

What’s Next For The Devils

After an eight day break, New Jersey travels to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Feb. 24.

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