Andy Greene and Patrik Elias iced the game with power-play goals 14 seconds apart with less than 5 minutes to play as the Devils (6-1-3) sent the Lightning to their third consecutive loss. Elias also had two assists.
Adam Henrique scored for the second game in a row and Martin Brodeur made 17 saves for New Jersey.
Nate Thompson and Matthew Carle scored for the Lightning, who have five goals during their losing streak. Tampa Bay scored 37 times in starting the season 6-1.
New Jersey, which came in having killed off 15 straight penalties, was 4 for 4 on the penalty kill, with Kovalchuk tallying after the Devils got an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Kovalchuk's third goal and second short-handed came after he intercepted a pass by defenseman Sami Salo and skated into the Lightning zone on a 2-on-1 with Travis Zajac. The Russian used his center as a decoy and snapped a shot from the dot in the left circle low into the corner of the net against a defenseless Anders Lindback at 17:34, snapping a six-game goal drought.
The Devils had been hit with their third straight penalty 1:11 earlier when somebody on the bench appeared to say something that referee Chris Rooney didn't appreciate.
Brodeur made the mistake that allowed Tampa Bay to tie the score 1-all a little more than 4 minutes earlier. Usually an outstanding puckhandler, he misplayed a pass from the crease off the sideboards. Martin St. Louis intercepted the pass and found Thompson between the circles for a shot into the top of the net.
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Henrique, who missed the first five games of the season while recovering from thumb surgery, had put New Jersey ahead earlier in the period thanks to a mistake by Lindback. The 6-foot-6 goalie thought he had caught a shot from the point by defenseman Anton Volchenkov. The puck, however, slipped out of his glove and Henrique pounced on the loose puck and backhanded it into the net for his third goal in five games.
Steven Stamkos, who had a five-game goal-scoring streak snapped in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday, had the best chance to tie the game in the third period. He cross-checked Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky to get open and missed a wide-open net after getting the rebound of a point shot by Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Greene scored with 4:48 to go with the Devils on a two-man advantage, and Elias capped his second straight three-point night seconds later.
Carle scored with the Lightning down three goals.
Before the game, the Devils decided to play first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau, marking his sixth game of the regular season. The decision means that the first year of his contract kicks in for this lockout-shortened 48-game season. The 18-year-old can still be sent down to play junior hockey, but his entry level contract is now active.
NOTES: With blizzard advisories in the northeast, the Lightning are heading to Boston for a game on Saturday. The Devils will play at home against the Penguins. ... Devils LW Dainius Zubrus was scratched with an upper body injury sustained Tuesday against the Rangers. ... Brodeur played in his 1,199th NHL game. ... The crowd of 14,802 was the Devils' first non-sellout in five home games.
Press; By TOM CANAVAN]
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