NHL on NBCSN: Stamkos, rising Lightning challenge hopeful Devils

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the New Jersey Devils host the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Prudential Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

New Jersey defeated the Boston Bruins in dramatic fashion on Saturday, scoring two power-play goals in the final two minutes of play to earn a 4-3 victory. Come-from-behind wins can be a big morale booster, but that victory will look awfully hollow if it doesn’t mark the beginning of a winning streak.

“I think we’re cautiously optimistic,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer told the Bergen Record. “The message is we’re doing more and more right every week. I really believe that and I think it’s starting to show and result in some wins and some points.”

Related: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $3,000 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Tuesday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $600. Starts at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the link.

Beating the Tampa Bay Lightning won’t be a simple task though. They entered the 2013-14 campaign with a lot of question marks, but have managed to exceed expectations in this early stage of the season.

“We probably have the quietest 8-3 record in the league and we like it that way,” Steven Stamkos said, according to the Lightning’s website.

A big part of their early success has been goalie Ben Bishop. He might not be regarded as one of the best netminders in the league, but he’s brought stability to their goaltending situation after years of uncertainty. Then of course there’s the Lightning’s core group of forwards.

Stamkos is one of the greatest players in the game today and he’s back by the reigning Art Ross Trophy-winner Martin St. Louis. Valtteri Filppula has also been a key contributor early on after inking a hefty five-year, $25 million contract over the summer.

With Cory Schneider still sidelined, that trio will be a significant challenge for Martin Brodeur. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer has shown his age in recent years and hasn’t even posted a save percentage of .900 or higher in a single game this season. On the flip side, Schneider’s injury has provided Brodeur with an opportunity to get back into a rhythm and perhaps he’ll respond positively to that.

The Devils certainly need to hope so because comebacks like the one they had on Saturday don’t come around all that often. If the 2-5-4 Devils want to turn their season around, they need to start winning some games outright.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Coach Q thinks Anisimov will be back by playoffs for Blackhawks

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The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.

The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:

The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.

Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.

Ducks demote Enroth, so Gibson’s close to a return

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The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.

(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)

While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.

Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?

Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.

He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.

(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.

While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.

With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.