NHL Game Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | 02/25/2024

Kucherov shoots against Luke Hughes and Colin Miller

The New Jersey Devils fell 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a crucial game with potential playoff implications. They struggled to get pucks to the net and couldn’t recover from a few breakdowns and bad bounces in their own zone. With the loss, the Devils dropped to 29-25-4, while the Lightning improved to 32-23-5.

Game Recap

Period One

The Devils put together a decent first period. They played strong defensively, and Akira Schmid, in his return to the NHL, made some big stops to keep the Lightning off the board. The Devils had extended zone time and forced Tampa’s top lines to play defense but missed the net too often on what would have been high-danger attempts.

New Jersey was outshot 9-6 in the first frame.

Period Two

The Devils surrendered an early goal at 1:27 after Victor Hedman buried a flubbed pass from Nikita Kucherov. The Devils left too much space in the middle of the ice for Kucherov, and despite losing the puck, it ricocheted off Jonas Siegenthaler and right to Hedman. Brandon Hagel collected a secondary assist.

Tampa Bay scored again less than three minutes later when Brayden Point banked the puck in off the back of Schmid’s leg. Sprawling to make the save, Schmid wasn’t sealed to his post and Point capitalized. Kucherov and Hedman tallied the assists.

The Devils quickly pulled back within one with a power play goal from Tyler Toffoli at 6:01. Jack Hughes sent a pass from behind the net that bounced off a Lightning player directly to Toffoli, who lit the lamp. Luke Hughes added a secondary assist.

New Jersey surged to end the period with a flurry of dangerous chances but couldn’t notch the tying goal.

The shots were ten apiece in the period.

Period Three

The Devils had two early power plays but couldn’t convert on either to tie the game.

At 9:38, the Lightning regained a two-goal lead when Point’s pass through the crease redirected off John Marino to Hagel, who hit the open net. Kucherov added a secondary assist.

With the goalie pulled, Kucherov iced the game with his fourth point of the night at 18:25. Hagel notched the lone assist.

Boos and chants of “Fire Lindy” rained down from the Prudential Center crowd as the Devils surrendered important points in the playoff standings. New Jersey was outshot 27-19 in the loss.

Takeaways

In what felt like a must-win game, the Devils lacked the urgency to earn even one point in the contest. The Lightning defended their rush attempts, and New Jersey struggled to get pucks through to goaltender Jonas Johansson, who had a .886 SV% and 3.54 GAA coming into the game. They shot high or wide on numerous attempts and didn’t challenge Johansson nearly enough. In the final period alone, the trailing Devils only managed three total shots on net. The Lightning also blocked 25 shot attempts compared to the Devils’ eight blocked attempts.

The power play, despite scoring, was still a shell of its form from the first half of the season when it was operating at over 30%. Toffoli was the beneficiary of a bounce to cash in for the Devils with the man advantage. However, Tampa Bay took consecutive penalties early in the third period, and the Devils couldn’t capitalize when it counted most. They struggled to break into the zone and couldn’t get shots on net once they were set up.

If there was a positive takeaway from the game, it would be the Devils’ penalty kill, which was perfect against the league’s best power play. They made smart reads and helped Schmid by clearing pucks from the net front and limiting second or third opportunities from Tampa’s best players.

Up Next

The Devils head out west to take on the 31st-place San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at the SAP Center. Timo Meier is also set to play his first game back in San Jose time since being traded to New Jersey.

The Sharks sit last in the Pacific Division and second to last in the league, making this a must-win for the Devils.

The Sharks won the first meeting between the two teams 6-3 on December 1st.

Puck drop is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. EST.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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