NEWARK, N.J. — There are things creeping into the Lightning's game lately that if left unchecked might blossom into full-blown problems.
Turnovers, for instance. Trouble getting the puck out of the defensive end. Tampa Bay also has been outshot in three of its past four games.
All of that conspired against the Lightning on Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center that stopped a three-game win streak.
"It's a pretty disappointing game," wing Marty St. Louis said.
"We weren't willing to grind it out."
Steven Stamkos got the only goal for the Lightning (8-4-0), a second-period tally on the power play that cut New Jersey's lead in half. And goalie Ben Bishop did his job with 20 saves.
But the Lightning could not overcome 13 turnovers.
There was Matt Carle's first-period turnover that led to a shorthanded goal and St. Louis' turnover that led to Jaromir Jagr's breakaway that made it 2-0 with 9:06 left in the second. (Jagr's 119th career winner pushed him past Phil Esposito into second place all time behind Gordie Howe.)
Nor could the Lightning overcome being outshot 22-17, including 5-4 in the third.
"This goes back to being hard to play against," coach Jon Cooper said. "You can be hard to play against in a bunch of different ways. But if you're going to get less than 20 shots in a hockey game, that's not very hard to play against.
"Marty Brodeur is a first-ballot Hall of Famer but he could have had a cigarette and a cup of coffee and played that game."
The second period was Tampa Bay's undoing.
First, it was Carle, whose giveaway during a power play turned into a three-on-two and a goal by Adam Henrique. It was the third shorthanded goal allowed by the Lightning, which tied the Oilers for the league lead.
Next it was St. Louis, who at the Devils blueline fumbled the puck to Jagr. A breakaway and goal ensued.
"It's a routine play, D-to-D pass," St. Louis said. "It went under my toe, kind of fanned on it. It's a nothing play that changes into a pretty big goal for them."
Stamkos' ninth goal, on which he poked in his own rebound while being checked to the ice by Anton Volchenkov, made it 2-1 with 4:37 remaining. Brodeur preserved the lead with 1:53 left with a left-leg save on Carle's shot from the slot off St. Louis' pass.
He also made a right-leg save on Alex Killorn's shot with 3:17 left on a Tampa Bay power play.
The Lightning's final mistake was having too many men on the ice with 2:45 remaining.
"We didn't earn it," St. Louis said. "We didn't play the right way to give ourselves a chance. It's not going to be pretty every game. But you've got to give yourself a chance.
"And tonight, we didn't earn it."
First Period—None. Penalties—None.
Second Period—1, New Jersey, Henrique 4 (Elias), 1:36 (sh). 2, New Jersey, Jagr 3, 10:54. 3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 9 (Purcell, Malone), 15:23 (pp). Penalties—Volchenkov, NJ (interference), :21; Henrique, NJ (hooking), 14:15.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Sustr, TB (high-sticking), 5:39; Carter, NJ (high-sticking), 5:39; Gudas, TB (tripping), 9:36; Ryder, NJ (hooking), 15:08; Tampa Bay bench, served by Purcell (too many men), 17:15; New Jersey bench, served by Carter (too many men), 19:56. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 4-9-4—17. New Jersey 10-7-5—22. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 4; New Jersey 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 7-2-0 (22 shots-20 saves). New Jersey, Brodeur 2-2-2 (17-16). A—13,501 (17,625).