Bratt scores three as Devils rally for win over Lightning
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jesper Bratt scored three goals for his first NHL hat trick as the New Jersey Devils rallied from two goals down and beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Sunday night to end a three-game skid.
Nico Hischier and Nolan Foote also scored to help the Devils improve their league-leading road record to 26-5-4. Vitek Vanecek finished with 22 saves to help New Jersey get a win after losing at home to the Lightning on Tuesday and Thursday before blowing a 2-0 lead in a 4-2 loss at Florida on Saturday.
“We played way better today,” Hischier said. “It would have been a tough one to swallow if we’d given up the lead again, but we all-around played our game. You just have to learn from those games. We know that if we play our game, we can beat those teams. That’s what we have to understand.”
Nikita Kucherov reached the 100-point mark for the third time in his career with a goal in the first period and Alex Killorn also scored for the Lightning, who had won three straight. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves.
“We have to go back to keeping it simple,” defenseman Zach Bogosian said after the Lightning committed 16 turnovers. “We are a very successful team on the forecheck and getting pucks behind them and then going to work.”
Kucherov put Tampa Bay ahead 1-0 at 3:26 of the first period, one-timing a power-play feed from Steven Stamkos past Vanecek to reach the 100-point mark. Kucherov previously had 100 points in 2017-18 and then led the NHL with 128 in 2018-19.
Killorn made it 2-0 at 6:30 of the second, drifting unchecked into the slot before beating Vanecek. But the Devils responded 9 seconds later when Bratt took a pass from Hischier and beat Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot from the slot.
Devils coach Lindy Ruff said Bratt scoring so quickly after Killorn’s goal was huge.
“We talked this morning about momentum, capturing momentum,” Ruff said. “They can either keep it after scoring their second goal, or we can answer. I thought the quick answer with Bratt’s goal was probably the turning point of the game.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper agreed.
“I really liked our first period and the first eight minutes of the second,” he said. “We scored that second goal after they had a couple of chances ... then an inexcusable goal off a faceoff right away. That never should have happened. That just triggered their momentum. Then it was just senseless turnovers and managing the puck.
“They are a pretty young, fast, skilled team and they were feeling it.”
Bratt tied it another 2:43 later when his straightaway shot from just inside the blue line sailed through traffic and past Vasilevskiy.
Hischier, the first played taken in the 2017 NHL Draft, became a 30-goal scorer for the first time and put New Jersey ahead with just under eight minutes left in the middle period by beating Vasilevskiy from the high slot.
Foote made it 4-2 at 9:51 of the third with his first of the season, and Bratt completed his hat trick with an empty-netter with 11.6 seconds remaining for his 30th.
Bratt said getting his 30th goal on the same night as Hischier meant a little extra. The two entered the NHL with the Devils in 2017-18 and have spent a lot of time on the same line since then.
“For us to both hit 30 on such a special win for us as a group was awesome,” he said. “I’m happy for us both.”
The Lightning honored forward Ondrej Palat with a video tribute during the first media timeout in his first visit to Amalie Arena since signing with New Jersey as a free agent last summer. Palat played his first 10 NHL seasons with the Lightning, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021.
Devils: Host Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Lightning: At Montreal on Tuesday night.
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