NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils entered Tuesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in search of consecutive wins, something had yet to accomplish this season. Thanks to strong efforts from a pair of 41-year-old future Hall of Famers, the Devils were able to do just that.
Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winner -- the 119th winner of his career, two shy of the NHL record held by Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe -- and Martin Brodeur made 16 saves as the Devils edged the Lightning 2-1 at the Prudential Center.
Brodeur's workload wasn't about quantity as much as it was about quality. He made a sparkling glove save on defenseman Matt Carle and stopped a breakaway attempt from center Tyler Johnson in the first period then stoned center Valtteri Filppula on the doorstep to preserve the lead with about six minutes left in the third period.
"It was hard. Not many shots," Brodeur said. "But the more you're on the ice and your feet in the situation where you have to hold leads, it's what I play hockey for. So it's kind of nice to have these situations and get in a groove a little bit."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was upset with his team's performance and the fact they didn't test Brodeur enough.
"When you get less than 20 shots in a hockey game, that's not very hard to play against," Cooper said. "I know 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. That's what's frustrating."
The win moved the Devils (3-5-4) to within one point of third place in the Metropolitan Division, an unlikely position for a team that opened with one victory in its first 10 games. The team has shown signs of improvement recently, and coach Peter DeBoer said victories are finally coming.
"I think our game's going in the right direction," DeBoer said. "I've been saying that for a while now. We're starting to get rewarded for that."
After a scoreless first period, Adam Henrique put the Devils on the board at the 1:36 mark when he finished a give-and-go passing play with Patrik Elias while short-handed. Henrique's fourth of the season was followed by Jagr's third of the season, a breakaway goal off a turnover by Lightning forward Martin St. Louis.
When asked after the game what he was thinking with so much time to shoot on his breakaway, Jagr responded, "Don't get injured."
"It went under my toe. I kind of fanned on it," St. Louis said of his turnover that sprung Jagr. "It's a D-to-D pass I tried to make. (Goaltender Ben Bishop) has made a lot of saves this year for us and it just didn't happen on that one. That one's on me."
The Lightning capitalized on their second power play, as Steven Stamkos scored his ninth of the season by pushing a rebound of his own deflection through the legs of Brodeur to make it 2-1.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Lightning (8-4-0), who entered play Tuesday tied atop the Eastern Conference with 16 points. St. Louis said despite the nice start, the team's performance against the Devils was unacceptable.
"If you told us we'd be 8-4 with the kind of schedule we have, we probably would have taken it," said St. Louis in reference to facing some of the top teams in both conferences in the early going. "But at the same time, you get greedy in this league when you have a good start, you want more. Unfortunately, we didn't earn it today. We didn't play the right way to give ourselves a chance. They deserved the two points."
NOTES: Lightning D Eric Brewer appeared in his 900th career game. He was taken with the fifth pick in the 1997 Draft by the New York Islanders, who also selected G Roberto Luongo with the fourth pick. ... The Lightning boast the tallest goaltending duo in the NHL with Bishop (6-foot-7) and Anders Lindback (6-6). ... LW Elias played in his 1,100th career game, third-most in Devils history behind D Ken Daneyko (1,283) and G Brodeur (1,226). ... Devils LW Ryane Clowe (head) missed his sixth consecutive game. ... Devils D Bryce Salvador (foot) and G Cory Schneider (lower body) were placed on injured reserve Monday. Salvador missed his third game of the season while Schneider missed his second. Rookie G Keith Kincaid served as Brodeur's backup.