Devils drop Game 4 and lose key player after controversial hit

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While not the 132 penalty minute gong show that Monday night was, Game 4 was actually nastier; Nikita Kucherov knocked Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen out of the game with a high hit, and there was seemingly a scrum after the whistle on every other play.

Tampa Bay leads the series three games to one and can close it out Saturday afternoon on home ice in Game 5. But they were never able to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on the power play, and eventually it was Kucherov - of course - able to finish things off with his second goal of the game, this one into the empty New Jersey net with just over a minute left to make it 3-1.

Here's how to watch Devils vs. Damon Severson and Nico Hischier both had great chances on a power play near the half mark of the period, but Vasilevskiy made strong pad saves and held the Devils at bay.

Kyle Palmieri scored on a 5-on-3 advantage for the Devils, who are back in the playoffs for the first time since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

He was recalled on Sunday by the Lightning after forward Ryan Callahan's injury, but did not play in Game 3 versus the New Jersey Devils. But, if you ask Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, quarterbacks and goalies have a lot more in common than you may think.

On the next shift, Kucherov took Vatenen out, and it certainly got the Devils riled up.

The 24-year-old Ontario native will now be assisting the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate the Syracuse Crunch as the team heads into the playoffs.

Kucherov has been the best player in the series so far. We need to go out and win one game in Tampa. About three minutes later former Ranger J.T. Miller tied the game.

No worries for Tampa Bay, which got it back when Kucherov batted in a loose puck from in front at 15:02 to take that one-goal lead. Steven Stamkos fed Kucherov entering the zone and he found Miller on the left side for a shot over Schneider's shoulder.

For the first time in the series, the Devils scored first with Palmieri converting from the left circle with the Lightning playing two men short at 8:23 of the first. After the Devils took an early lead, he made several key saves to keep his team in the game. Kucherov's goals Wednesday lifted him into second place on the franchise's all-time playoff list with 26. Crosby and the Penguins followed a 7-0 sport inch win and also a 5-1 Game 3 success with another notable outing.

Over his six-year National Hockey League career, Vatanen has played for the Devils and Ducks.