Ilya Kovalchuk scored his fifth winning goal in the last 11 games and the New Jersey Devils continued their amazing playoff push with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
Martin Brodeur had 15 saves and Henrik Tallinder also scored as the Devils won for the 18th time in 22 games (18-2-2) and moved past Florida into 12th place in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind eighth-place Carolina.
Dominic Moore scored for Tampa Bay, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, a run that included a win over New Jersey last week.
Dwayne Roloson made 25 saves for the Lightning, but he didn’t have a chance on either Devils’ goals.
Kovalchuk’s 22nd of the season and eighth winner was set up by a great steal by Travis Zajac deep in the Tampa Bay zone. He intercepted a pass in the right circle and found Kovalchuk between the circles for a snap shot that he launched falling to the ice.
Once it went into the net, he got down on a knee and pumped his fist, something that he has done with greater frequency since New Jersey started turning its season around after Jacques Lemaire took over as coach before Christmas.