TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer placed a big emphasis on an early December game.
Zach Parise and Adam Henrique both had a goal and two assists to lead the Devils past the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 on Monday night.
Parise, Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored in the second period as the Devils broke open a tie game after both teams scored twice in the first.
Petr Sykora and Dainius Zubrus had the other goals for New Jersey, which had lost five of seven.
“It’s an important game,” DeBoer said. “I think we’re both spinning our wheels a little bit where we’re sitting in the standings and both trying to get some traction and move up. It was a key two points.”
Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist for the Lightning, losers of seven of eight. Steve Downie and Blair Jones also scored.
“We’re finding ways to lose game right now,” Stamkos said. “We showed, obviously, a lot of character like we always do. That second period killed us. We dug ourselves a whole to big to climb out of.”
Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson was replaced by Mathieu Garon early in the second after allowing three goals on 12 shots.
“He’ll bounce back,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.
Roloson, who helped Tampa Bay reach the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, has struggled this year and has played in just three of the Lightning’s last 10 games.
Parise scored 56 seconds into the second on an odd-man rush to make it 3-2. After Kovalchuk had a breakaway goal at 5:42, Henrique gave the Devils the three-goal advantage during a short-handed 2-on-none with 6:37 to go in the period.
Henrique had a seven-game points streak (2 goals, 7 assists) end in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Montreal. Parise assisted on two of the second-period goals.
Stamkos had a power-play goal at 9:29 of the third, and added his 18th goal of the season in the final minute with the Lightning net empty. The center had not scored a goal in his previous five games.
Sykora put the Devils up 1-0 on a backhand rebound just 28 seconds into the game, ending a personal seven-game goal-scoring drought. It also gave the right wing 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 39 career games against Tampa Bay.
New Jersey went ahead 2-0 when Zubrus re-directed Matt Taormina’s shot during a power play at 5:38 of the first.
Downie cut the deficit to 2-1 from the left circle with 2:26 left in the first. Jones pulled Tampa Bay even at 2-all after skating in from the right wing boards and beating Johan Hedberg with a backhander at 18:54.
It was Jones’ first goal in 29 games, dating back to Nov. 3, 2010.
Hedberg made 32 saves. Garon stopped 8 of 10 shots.
“It was a hard-fought, crazy game, at least from my standpoint,” Hedberg said. “Even though we were up three goals going into the third, I didn’t have a feeling that this was going to be an easy ride. And it wasn’t either.”
The teams combined for 14 penalties, including six fighting majors.
“Both teams were desperate for the points,” Kovalchuk said. “I think it was a great game to watch for the fans.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay RW Martin St. Louis, sidelined since getting hit near the left eye by a shot in practice last Thursday, was at the game. He has not resumed working out. … New Jersey Devils acquired D Kurtis Foster and G Timo Pielmeier from Anaheim for C Rod Pelley, D Mark Fraser and a seventh-round pick in 2012. … Tampa Bay agreed to a two-year contract with free-agent F Antti Miettinen and recalled D Evan Oberg from Norfolk of the AHL. … Devils RW Cam Janssen missed his fourth straight game due to a bruised chest, but could return this week. … Lightning D Pavel Kubina was in the lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)