Tampa Bay finally found something positive.
Nate Thompson had his first career two-goal game while Alex Killorn, B.J. Crombeen and Marty St. Louis also scored as the Lightning defeated New Jersey 5-2 on Tuesday at Prudential Center in front of an announced crowd of 15,229.
It marked the first victory for the Lightning since beating Carolina on Feb. 23. Tampa Bay ended a four-game road trip with a 1-3 record.
The victory allowed Tampa Bay to stop a five-game slide while extending the Devils' winless streak to six games. It was the first win for Tampa Bay against a non-division opponent this season in 12 road games, in which the the Lightning improved to 4-8.
The Bolts went on cruise control after building a 4-0 lead before New Jersey scored twice late in the third period to make it a close game. Anders Lindback stopped 25 shots for the victory in his first start since being pulled in the first period on Feb. 24. Crombeen put the game away with an empty net goal with 1:20 left for his first of the season.
Tampa Bay did not start the game well, getting hemmed in on the opening shift which led to Sami Salo flipping the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty 32 seconds into the period. But the Lightning were able to kill off the New Jersey power play, allowing the Devils two shots on goal, including an Ilya Kovalchuck attempt that went off the mask of Lindback.
The Lightning managed to open the scoring late in the period when rookie Ondrej Palat, in his second game, pressured New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador in the right corner and took the puck off his stick. Palat got it to Cory Conacher, who fed Thompson at the top of the crease for his fourth goal of the season at 17:04 of the first period.
After misfiring on a power play attempt 41 seconds into the second period, the Lightning built a two-goal lead seconds after averting disaster in their own zone. St. Louis put the puck in front of his own net where it was mishandled by Killorn.
But Lindback poked it back onto the stick of Killorn, who brought it up the ice, fed Vinny Lecavalier in the neutral zone then received a return pass inside the offensive zone. Killorn cut back above the crease to feed St. Louis, who kicked the puck to his stick and put it past Hedberg at 5:53.
Killorn then struck again, absorbing a hit in the corner before collecting the puck and wheeling out to the front of the net to put a puck on frame that found a hole under Hedberg at 13:13 to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.
It also ended the night for Hedberg after he allowed three goals on 11 shots before giving way to rookie Keith Kinkaid for his NHL debut.
The three-goal lead held through the first two periods – just the third time this season Tampa Bay has held a team scoreless through two periods – despite some late antics by the Devils, including David Clarkson goading Keith Aulie into a fight, and a suspendable charging call on Cam Janssen, who left his feet and made contact with Conacher’s head late in the period.
Steven Stamkos had the chance to make it 4-0 early in third when he blocked an Adam Larsson shot and outraced the young defense up the ice for the puck and came in on a breakaway. But after Stamkos made a pump fake deke to his forehand, Kinkaid kept his left pad along the ice up against the post against to stop the shot from the league’s leading goal scorer.