TAMPA, Fla. – Dainius Zubrus had one of the best offensive games in New Jersey Devils history.
Zubrus tied a team record with four goals to help New Jersey win its season-high fourth straight game, 7-3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
“I had chances,” Zubrus said. “Since I’ve played with Brian Gionta and Patrik Elias, I’ve had more chances than I had before. They just started going in.”
Zubrus, who entered with two goals this season, completed his four-goal effort in the third with a breakaway goal at 7:22 and on a shot from the slot with 5:22 left to play.
“He played a heck of a game,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “Just not the goals he scored, but he was very good down low and in our zone. Very strong. Very solid.”
Mike Rupp, Zach Parise and Gionta had the other New Jersey goals. Elias had three assist, all coming on Zubrus goals.
“You know what? We’re playing hockey,” Sutter said. “It’s going from our dressing room right on to the bench and out onto the ice. We’re getting contributions from everybody. Everyone is just doing their job and playing a sound team game, and that’s really important and they’re being rewarded for it.
Radim Vrbata, Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone scored for the Lightning, who are 1-1-2 under interim coach Rick Tocchet.
“Pretty bad effort,” Tocchet said. “A dud.”
Lightning starting goalie Mike Smith didn’t play due to an undisclosed lower-body injury. Olaf Kolzig replaced Smith, who is day to day.
Rupp put the Devils up 1-0 at 1:44 of the first on a nifty redirection from the left circle, which snapped a personal 19-game goal-scoring drought.
Parise made it 2-0 from the top of the left circle during a delayed penalty call with 2:23 left in the first.
Zubrus extended the New Jersey lead to 3-0 when he scored his first goal in 11 games at 1:58 of the second. His second goal of the game, coming two minutes 36 seconds later, gave the Devils a four-goal advantage.
Kolzig, who received little support from his teammates, was pulled and replaced by Karri Ramo after Gionta scored to make it 5-0 with 8:21 left in the second.
“There wasn’t a lot of grit in front of him,” Tocchet said.
Kolzig gave up five goals on 28 shots.
“I definitely needed to be better,” Kolzig said. “No question, three goals I should have had. I really can’t speak for anybody else because of the way I played.”
The Lightning battled back after the goalie switch, scoring three quick goals. After goals by Vrbata (13:08) and St. Louis (14:40), Malone cut the Lightning deficit to 5-3 by beating Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen on a penalty shot with 3:18 left in the second.
“We take a huge step back,” St. Louis said. “It’s really disappointing.”
Notes: Gionta has scored a goal in four straight games. … Tampa Bay recalled Ramo and D Jamie Heward from Norfolk of the AHL. … Devils C John Madden (left foot) missed his second straight game. He is day to day. … New Jersey D Mike Mottau served the first game of a two-game suspension for elbowing New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen on Friday. … The Devils recalled D Jay Leach from Lowell of the AHL. … St. Louis’ second-period goal gave him 500 points with Tampa Bay.