By TOM CANAVAN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 9:37 PM
NEWARK, N.J. -- Ilya Kovalchuk scored his fifth winning goal in the last 11 games and the New Jersey Devils continued their amazing playoff push with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
Martin Brodeur had 15 saves and Henrik Tallinder also scored as the Devils won for the 18th time in 22 games (18-2-2) and moved past Florida into 12th place in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind eighth-place Carolina.
Dominic Moore scored for Tampa Bay, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, a run that included a win over New Jersey last week.
Dwayne Roloson made 25 saves for the Lightning, but he didn't have a chance on either Devils' goals.
Kovalchuk's 22nd of the season and eighth winner was set up by a great steal by Travis Zajac deep in the Tampa Bay zone. He intercepted a pass in the right circle and found Kovalchuk between the circles for a snap shot that he launched falling to the ice.
Once it went into the net, he got down on a knee and pumped his fist, something that he has done with greater frequency since New Jersey started turning its season around after Jacques Lemaire took over as coach before Christmas.
New Jersey tied it at 1 late in the second period on Tallinder's fourth goal of the season.
Defenseman Mark Fayne missed the net with a shot from the right point, but Vladimir Zharkov and Kovalchuk worked the puck to Tallinder above the left faceoff circle. The defenseman hesitated a split second before beating Roloson with a shot.
Brodeur, playing in his second straight game since returning from a knee injury, stopped a rebound attempt by Dana Tyrell and an attempt in close by Vincent Lecavalier early in the third period to keep the game tied.
Moore had given the Lightning a 1-0 early in the period with a somewhat lucky power-play goal. Defenseman Pavel Kubina centered the puck from the right circle and it went off Moore's skate into an open net.
The goal was reviewed but replays clearly showed it was not deliberately kicked into the net.
There were only nine shots in the first period and only two good scoring chances, a short-handed breakaway by Nate Thompson of Tampa Bay and a power-play shot by Jacob Josefson of New Jersey.
Notes: Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay has his nine-game scoring streak stopped (4 goals, 9 assists). ... David Steckel, acquired Monday in the deal that sent Jason Arnott to Washington, wore Arnott's No. 25. However, he centered the fourth line between Rod Pelley and David Clarkson. Josefson centered Arnott's old line with Vladimir Zharkov and Mattias Tedenby on the wings. ... Roloson started his fourth straight game for Tampa Bay. ... New Jersey's Zach Parise, who had surgery on his right knee Nov. 2, has been cleared to skate lightly. ... New Jersey won the season series 3-1.