Johnson scores in OT, Lightning beat Devils 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos was not smiling after the playoff-bound Lightning's victory over New Jersey.
Tyler Johnson scored his second goal, an overtime power-play effort, and the Lightning beat the Devils 4-3 on Thursday night.
''I still think we've got to be better,'' Stamkos said. ''That's a team that's really not playing for much right now. We had a couple lapses in the defensive zone, which we don't want come playoff time.''
Johnson scored from along the goal line 1:22 into the extra session when his shot deflected off the shin of Devils defenseman Seth Helgeson.
''It was just a tough play at the end,'' New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello said.
Nikita Nesterov and Stamkos also scored for the Lightning, who are two points behind Montreal for the Atlantic Division title. Tampa Bay will finish in first with a win over Boston and a Montreal loss to Toronto on Saturday.
''All we can do is win our game and see what happens,'' Stamkos said.
Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat had three assists apiece.
New Jersey, 1-6-3 over its last 10 games, got two goals from Steve Bernier, while Patrik Elias had the other Devils goal. Scott Gomez and Adam Henrique both had two assists.
Gomez has 567 assists, one away from tying Scott Niedermayer for 94th place on the NHL list.
The Devils nearly took a late lead in the third period, but Mike Cammalleri's shot hit the post.
After Stamkos scored his 43rd goal on a power play late in the second, Bernier got his second goal to make it 3-3 just 16 seconds later.
Nesterov put the Lightning up 2-1 by beating Keith Kinkaid with a blue line shot during a power play midway in the first period.
''Too many penalties,'' Lamoriello said. ''But effort was excellent.''
Kinkaid made 27 saves.
Elias pulled the Devils even after lifting a shot from the low right circle over Ben Bishop midway in the second. Elias tied John LeClair and Rod Gilbert for 87th place all-time with 406 goals.
Bishop stopped 21 shots.
Bernier opened the scoring 5:06 into the game after picking up a loose puck in the left circle following a power-play faceoff.
Johnson tied it at 1 just 80 seconds after Bernier's goal.
''I don't know what to think of the game,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ''We tried hard. What I didn't like was just the goals we gave up. We were just way too lax defensively.''
NOTES: Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman (lower body) played and picked up an assist after sitting out three games. ... New Jersey C Stephen Gionta (back) returned after missing three games and had an assist. ... Lightning D Jason Garrison (upper body), D Braydon Coburn (lower body), D Andrej Sustr (upper body) and C Alex Killorn (undisclosed) are all practicing on a limited basis. ... The Devils recalled Helgeson and D Raman Hrabarenka from Albany of the AHL. Hrabarenka made his NHL debut. ... New Jersey scratched D Eric Gelinas (ribs) and D Jon Merrill (leg). ... The Lightning signed F Cam Darcy to a three-year contract.