Lightning face fading Kings in effort to pick up pace

Lightning face fading Kings in effort to pick up pace

At their season's midpoint, the Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves in the curious position of possibly playing golf in April instead of competing for a fourth Stanley Cup.When they play the Los Ange

At their season’s midpoint, the Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves in the curious position of possibly playing golf in April instead of competing for a fourth Stanley Cup.When they play the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night to open a four-game homestand, the Lightning will be looking for a positive change to the season’s direction.Through 41 games, the Lightning continue to underachieve, especially considering their elite standard.Over the first half of last season, the three-time Stanley Cup winners had 27 wins, earned 55 points and trailed the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs by four points in the Atlantic Division with three games in hand.Currently, the Lightning have 19 victories (43 points) and sit outside of a wild-card spot. They also find themselves on the wrong side of the games-in-hand picture.Their 86-point pace would likely fall short of a postseason berth. Last season, the Ottawa Senators totaled 86 points, placing them 11th in the conference and missing the final playoff spot claimed by the Florida Panthers (92 points).Plenty of work lies ahead for the Lightning, who last failed to qualify for the playoffs in a 94-point regular season in 2016-17.”Bottom line, it was a 4-3 game going to the third and they took advantage of their (four) shots,” coach Jon Cooper said after the Lightning surrendered three late goals in Saturday’s 7-3 loss at the host Boston Bruins.The Lightning are 11-5-3 at home as opposed to 8-12-2 on the road.Forward Tanner Jeannot was injured in the middle of the second period in Boston and did not return, while Jack Thompson and Emil Martinsen Lilleberg made their NHL debuts.While the Kings have had almost no success against Tampa Bay over the past six seasons, they will look for anything positive in the second stop of their season-long six-game road trip.

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