Second period sinks Lightning in loss at home to Devils

Eduardo A. Encina, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Hockey

TAMPA, Fla. — The second period has given the Lightning trouble at times this season, and on Sunday night, the middle 20 minutes of regulation sapped their momentum.

In their third meeting with New Jersey in six days, the Lightning scored the first two goals of the game, but after Alex Killorn scored at the 6:30 mark in the second, the Devils answered with a Jesper Bratt goal on the following shift, the first of three New Jersey goals in a six-minute stretch.

After Nico Hischier scored with 7:58 left in the second, the Lightning were shell-shocked. The Devils scored five straight goals to win after after Bratt’s empty-netter gave him a hat trick with 11.6 seconds to play.

The Lightning seemed to take a step back in the back end of home games on consecutive nights, their three-game win streak snapped with the 5-2 loss.

The Lightning have been outscored 79-74 in the second period this season.

A Devils team that is the third-youngest in the Eastern Conference has been the best road team in the league with 56 points and a 26-5-4 record away from home.

In the second period Sunday, Killorn stepped up into the slot while Tanner Jeannot streaked to the net, pulled back, then rifled a shot past Vitek Vanecek to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. Before that, the Devils had outshot Tampa Bay 9-0 in the period.


Bratt left the Lightning flat-footed in their own zone, speeding along the right wing, then cutting in front and whipping a shot past Andrei Vaasilevkiy. Bratt’s tying goal came on a seeing-eye shot from the point through traffic past a screened Vasilevskiy.

Down 3-2 after Hischier’s goal, Lightning defenseman Ian Cole’s shot from the left point hit off the far post and hugged the goal line, sliding across the paint without crossing into the net. The no goal was confirmed by video review.

Former Lightning first-round pick Nolan Foote put New Jersey up by two with a shot from above the circles 9:51 into the third.

Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring in the first period with his 28th goal of the season, giving him his third career 100-point season. Kucherov kept the puck inside the Lightning offensive zone, passed to Steven Stamkos by the left circle, then called for the puck, lifting his stick in the air, rifling a one-timer from the high slot past Vanecek on his glove side.

Kucherov, who is already the only player in Lightning history with multiple 100-point seasons, became the sixth active player to record at least three 100-point campaigns, joining select company that includes Connor McDavid (six 100-point seasons), Sidney Crosby (six), Leon Draisaitl (four), Alexander Ovechkin (four) and Evgeni Malkin (three).

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