It's safe to say there may have been some pressure on David Clarkson to repeat his breakout campaign from a season ago after the New Jersey Devils lost Zach Parise's services through free agency.
The 28-year-old hasn't given the Devils reason to worry yet.
Clarkson will try to lead New Jersey to a third straight victory on Thursday evening as the Tampa Bay Lightning pay a visit to the Prudential Center.
An undrafted winger signed by the Devils in 2005, Clarkson came into last season with 52 career goals before exploding for 30 in 80 games. He is on another career pace despite the shortened season, having logged seven goals and 12 points over the first nine games.
Clarkson scored twice and had an assist in Tuesday's 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, New Jersey's second in a row following an 0-3-1 skid. The forward also scored in Sunday's 3-0 win over the New York Islanders that halted the losing streak.
Veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, who did not start the win over the Islanders, made 24 saves versus the Rangers and had praise for Clarkson afterwards.
"He's well prepared and takes care of himself a lot to be the best he can be," he noted of the forward. "He's not the most talented player, but he's a guy that always puts himself in good situations and he's not a guy who's scared to be in the middle of things.
"And he's getting bounces now. I'm going to tell him he's lucky, but he's not. He's creating his own luck and that's something to be said about a goal- scorer."
Adam Henrique also lit the lamp and Patrik Elias assisted on all three goals for the Devils, who have won four of five and 16 of their past 19 versus the Lightning.
Tampa Bay has also struggled as of late in New Jersey, where they have lost eight of their past 10 and continue a four-game road trip on Thursday.
After having a five-game winning streak snapped on Saturday in the finale of a five-game homestand, the Lightning began their road trip with a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Benoit Pouliot scored a game-tying goal with 10:30 remaining in the third period, but the Flyers' Tom Sestito notched his second goal of the contest and the game-winner less than two minutes later.
Anders Lindback stopped 22 shots in the setback.
"I felt they had a lot of offensive zone time the first half of that game. So, we didn't have enough fresh legs to go on the offense. That's pretty much what happened," said Bolts forward Martin St. Louis. "But we fought back and Bryzgalov made some keys saves at key times. We just didn't get it done."
St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos were all held without a point, with Stamkos seeing his season-opening eight-game point streak halted. He had logged seven goals and nine assists over the run.
B.J. Crombeen is questionable for this game after leaving in the first period on Tuesday following a fight with Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo. He did not return as a precaution, but was medically cleared for this game on Wednesday. Head coach Guy Boucher could sit him versus the Devils again as precaution.