Lightning hopes Saturday's win can be start of run
The Lightning enters tonight's game against the Kings with an opportunity to complete a feat it hasn't done in more than a month:
Win back to back games.
Tampa Bay, coming off a 3-2 shootout victory over the Ducks Saturday, is encouraged after back-to-back practices Monday and Tuesday. And if the Lightning can beat the Kings to wrap up a four-game homestand, it'll be the first time it's won two in a row since Dec. 20-22.
That inability to go on a run has put the Lightning (23-24-6) in last in the Eastern Conference, seven points out of a playoff spot.
"We've never been in this position before," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "All the games are very important. We know we have some ground to make up. We know there are going to be teams around us going to lose and win. We've got to focus on what we can control and that's win as many games as possible."
The Lightning beat the Kings two weeks ago in L.A., but should be facing an angry opponent tonight. Los Angeles got thumped 5-0 by the Capitals Sunday. Tampa Bay, however, is coming off one of its better performances in recent memory. What struck coach Jon Cooper the most was how his team responded after blowing a one-goal third period lead.
"The big thing for me was, 'Which way are we going to go?'' Cooper said. "Were we going to let another one slip away? Or are we going to dig our heels in and win a hockey game? That's what they did, it's a positive sign for us. Hope we can keep that going."
MORE NOTES: With no morning skate today, the Lightning lineup won't be known until around gametime. But wing Ondrej Palat (undisclosed), who was held out of Saturday's game, didn't skate with the team Sunday or Monday, so he would appear doubtful for tonight. Forward Michael Bournival has participated in practice in back-to-back days in a regular jersey, so he appears closer to a return.. Center Brian Boyle, a huge Patriots fan from Hingham, Mass, said he was depressed at halftime of Sunday's Super Bowl. But Boyle couldn't have been happier with New England's comeback. "That was a movie ending, almost," Boyle said. "Couldn't have scripted it any better."... D Jake Dotchin continues to impress the Lightning, including his partner, All-Star D Victor Hedman. "He's been playing great," Hedman said. "He moves the puck very well, he's got a great shot, good positioning. Tough to play against. He's got all the tools to be a regular in the NHL." Cooper said Dotchin was on the team's radar in training camp, but some extra seasoning in the AHL has paid off. "When we first drafted him, he wasn't built into a man yet. He was big, but didn't have that man strength, which he does now," Cooper said. "His poise under pressure, a lot of those things take time."