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Lightning’s win streak ends at hands of New Jersey Devils

After 10 consecutive victories, the Lightning hurt themselves in falling one win short of setting a team record.

NEWARK, N.J. — The streak is over. Ten games is as far as this one goes.

The Lightning matched the franchise record for consecutive wins that they set last season in February but couldn’t get No. 11.

Goalie Louis Domingue did what the Lightning have seen him do many times, but this time he did it for the other team in a 3-1 Devils victory Sunday at the Prudential Center. Meanwhile, the Lightning were off.

Related: The Lightning is still perfect on the penalty kill, despite loss to Devils

“It was a weird game,” coach Jon Cooper said. “I think we were playing two teams (Sunday): the New Jersey Devils and ourselves.”

The Lightning took two penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game. They never settled into a rhythm. Neither team ever seemed to have momentum. The Devils had the lead for the second half of the game, but they weren’t controlling it.

“For whatever reason, the offense has run dry a little bit,” Steven Stamkos said. “Plays that usually we make or shots that we usually take that are hitting the net, at least giving us a chance … (the Devils) did a good job of just clogging up the middle, and we just kind of ran out of options.”

The Lightning put 27 shots on Domingue, who was supplanted as the Lightning’s backup after last season and traded to the Devils in November. They took 34 shots that didn’t make it to him. The Devils blocked 14 shots, but the Lightning missed the net on 20 attempts.

Cooper didn’t think it was so much because of what the Devils did.

“Some wide-open looks and we just, we missed,” he said. “We put ourselves in some decent positions to score, and we were off.”

Tyler Johnson scored the Lightning’s only goal. Anthony Cirelli made a good play to keep the puck in the zone as the Devils tried to clear it. Victor Hedman picked up the loose puck and sent it across the ice to Johnson, who flipped a shot up off Domingue and into the net 37 second into the second period for a 1-0 lead.

The Lightning had the better chances. Stamkos had a breakaway on Domingue, and the goalie turned it away with a pad. Stamkos took a couple of shots from his office in the left circle, but Domingue made the saves.

Related: Midseason report: Who is the biggest surprise? The hottest? The most improved?

Stamkos took four shots and Nikita Kucherov had five, what you’d expect from the Lightning’s scorers, but none of them added up to goals.

“We also got away from our game plan just a hair,” Johnson said. “A few too many turnovers, tried to do a little bit of the cute plays, compared to keeping it simple like we have been doing.”

The Lightning need to stick to the recipe of what put them on the 10-game winning streak, he said.

They did that on the defensive side. For the fourth consecutive game, the Lightning kept an opponent to 25 shots or fewer. The Devils had only 20 in the game, but they scored on two of six second-period shots.

The first one was a one-timer from the point by Andy Greene. It wouldn’t have been an easy save given the heat on the shot, but Curtis McElhinney may have been too far to the right post, leaving a gap by his glove.

The second goal was fluky. Travis Zajac deflected a shot with his back to the net. The puck bounced at his foot, between Cirelli’s legs and into the open side of the net, while McElhinney slid toward the right post.

It wasn’t an awful game. But this one did end the winning streak, so it is magnified.

As Cooper said, no one expected the Lightning to win out from the season’s midway point. But all streaks hurt when they end.

Devils 0-2-1—3

Lightning 0-1-0—1

First Period—None. Penalties—Gourde, Tam (High Sticking), 2:32; Cirelli, Tam (Roughing), 9:33; Greene, New (Hooking), 12:36; Palat, Tam (Tripping), 17:34.

Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Johnson 11 (Hedman), 0:37. 2, New Jersey, Greene 1 (Wood, Hughes), 3:10. 3, New Jersey, Zajac 6 (Gusev, Severson), 9:54. Penalties—Hayden, New (Slashing), 16:04; Gourde, Tam (Fighting), 18:48; Carrick, New (Fighting), 18:48; Kucherov, Tam (Slashing), 19:37.

Third Period—4, New Jersey, Wood 7 (Simmonds, Greene), 19:59 (en). Penalties—None.

Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 12-8-7_27. New Jersey 10-6-4_20. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; New Jersey 0 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, McElhinney 5-5-2 (19 shots-17 saves). New Jersey, Domingue 3-4-0 (27-26).

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