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Tampa Bay Lightning loses to New Jersey Devils 2-1

NEWARK, N.J. — Lightning center Steven Stamkos spoke quietly Wednesday night.

"Things aren't going well," he said.

He spoke of doubting himself, passing up shots and his inability to generate any offense.

It was all on display during Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center as the league's top goal scorer went without a shot on goal.

"It's tough," Stamkos said. "You don't have that confidence. You're hesitant. It's been tough. It's definitely frustrating."

Stamkos doesn't get the blame for the loss that ended the Lightning's three-game winning streak.

Ilya Kovalchuk's goal with 9:50 left in the third period broke a 1-1 tie after Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Smaby lost the puck in the defensive zone to Travis Zajac and right wing Steve Downie was out of position when the puck got to the Devils' top goal scorer.

But in a game in which the Lightning (37-19-7) had a season-worst 16 shots, Stamkos' input would have been welcome.

Stamkos, with a league-best 41 goals, has just one in nine games. And for the first time this season, he has zero shots in consecutive games.

In the second period Wednesday, he passed up an open shot from the right faceoff circle to pass to the middle to Marty St. Louis. The puck was knocked away.

"He's getting all kinds of opportunities to shoot the puck, and he doesn't," coach Guy Boucher said. "You want to pass up shots? Fine, pass up shots. You won't score goals."

"A lot of it has to do with, when things are going well, you have that swagger a little bit," Stamkos said. "When things aren't, you kind of doubt yourself. Maybe that's what's going on right now."

Stamkos wasn't the only offender against New Jersey, which is on an 18-2-2 run, is terrific positionally and clogs the middle of the ice.

St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell had one shot each. Downie had zero. And Dominic Moore's second-period power-play goal that gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead was a Pavel Kubina shot that deflected off Moore's skate.

But Stamkos has 22 percent of Tampa Bay's 187 goals. He can't afford to disappear.

"It will come back," general manager Steve Yzerman said of Stamkos' scoring touch. "There are times throughout the course of the season when for whatever reason it's not happening. … As a team, it's been a grind lately. It'll pick up again."

"I just have to keep doing the little things, go to the net, shoot the puck," Stamkos said. "I have to take it upon myself to start generating chances."

Devils 0 1 1 2
Lightning 0 1 0 1

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesGagne, TB (hooking), 13:17.

Second Period1, Tampa Bay, Moore 11 (Kubina, Hedman), 4:41 (pp). 2, New Jersey, Tallinder 4 (Kovalchuk, Zharkov), 18:45. PenaltiesSalmela, NJ (delay of game), 3:01; Stamkos, TB (goaltender interference), 6:27; Volchenkov, NJ (charging), 19:34.

Third Period3, New Jersey, Kovalchuk 22 (Zajac), 10:10. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 3-7-6—16. New Jersey 6-10-11—27. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 2; New Jersey 0 of 2. GoaliesTampa Bay, Roloson 18-20-2 (27 shots-25 saves). New Jersey, Brodeur 15-19-2 (16-15).

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to New Jersey Devils 2-1 03/02/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 7:53am]
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