The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed an incredible run over 10 games that bolted them up the Atlantic Division standings, but one of the NHL's hard truths brought their run to a close on a sour note.
No matter the lopsided nature of the matchup, there are no guarantees in the world's premier hockey league.
Fresh off seeing their franchise high-tying 10-game winning streak come to a halt, the Lightning look to get back on track Tuesday when they host the Los Angeles Kings.
Tampa Bay dropped a 3-1 setback to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night, marking its first defeats since it lost by the same score in Washington to the Capitals on Dec. 21.
A look at the Eastern Conference standings showed Sunday's game should have given the Lightning hope for a fine shot at 11 straight wins.
The Devils have endured a disastrous season with head coach John Hynes fired on Dec. 3 when the team had just nine victories. Before Sunday's game, the organization relieved general manager Ray Shero of his duties.
But New Jersey, which has dwelled near the conference's basement along with Detroit and Ottawa all season, frustrated the Lightning by blocking 14 shots, and former Tampa Bay goalie Louis Domingue made 26 saves to turn back his old club.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said the team will be ready to start anew when it hosts the Kings.
"We talked about going on a run before that, that we needed an extended point streak, and to get 10 wins in a row is pretty great. We put ourselves back in a position we knew we could be at this time of the year," Stamkos said.
"You can't just be satisfied with a run like that when it ends, and we'll look to get back home and collect some more points."
Tyler Johnson scored his 150th NHL goal for Tampa Bay, which saw Ondrej Palat return after missing one game with a lower-body injury.
The Lightning will travel again after the contest against the Kings, embarking on a six-game road trip against Western Conference foes.
Los Angeles fell for the fourth time in its past five contests after dropping a 2-0 decision at Carolina on Saturday. It marked the fourth time this season that the Kings have been blanked.
Coach Todd McLellan liked the way his team played in the defeat and said his side needed a break or two.
"That's probably one of the better-played losses that I've experienced," the first-year Kings coach said. "The team really played well. We played against a team that doesn't give up much, plays at a fast pace, and I think we played right there with them the whole night.
"A little puck luck around the net and it could have been a different story."
Forward Alex Iafallo saw his nine-game point streak (four goals, six assists) come to a halt.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan centered the fourth line in his season debut with the Kings.
--Field Level Media