File this one under “Things that haven’t happened often this season,” as the Tampa Bay Lightning put together rare back-to-back wins while the Los Angeles Kings fell 5-0 for the second game in a row.
The Bolts’ last consecutive victories came when they beat the Red Wings 4-1 (Dec. 20) and the Blues 5-2 (Dec. 22). They edged the Ducks 3-2 via a shootout on Saturday and clubbed the Kings 5-0 on Tuesday.
Also rare: a shutout for Ben Bishop, his first of this letdown of a season.
Los Angeles doesn’t need to look far to find an obvious scapegoat for its recent struggles. While allowing five goals in two straight contests isn’t the best sign for their defense and surprisingly effective goalie Peter Budaj, it’s the Kings’ popgun offense that is the biggest concern.
Royal pains as other West bubble teams make big gains
The Kings have only generated a single goal in their past five games, an overtime tally in a 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s foolish to go in too deep on their struggles – these consecutive losses came after reeling off five straight wins – but one way or another, Los Angeles will finish Tuesday outside of the West’s top eight.
MORE: Get a rundown of the West’s tightest playoff races here. Long story short? Tuesday was indeed a rough one for the Kings.
If Bishop’s shutout wasn’t heartening enough for the Lightning, consider a strong night for Nikita Kucherov – whose two goals push him to 21 on the season – and his buddy Vladislav Namestnikov (two primary assists on those Kucherov goals).
Is this enough for the Lightning to spark a turnaround? They still have a big hole to dig out of, yet with a four-game road trip slated to begin on Friday, this win could serve as a key confidence-booster.