NHL on NBCSN: Bolts look to climb out of Eastern Conference basement against Kings

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Believe it or not, the Lightning come into this game in last place in the Eastern Conference standings. They’ve accumulated 52 points, which is tied with the Buffalo Sabres, but it’s taken them a game more to get to that number.

A win tonight could jolt Tampa Bay ahead of both Buffalo and Detroit. It was also leave just one point behind Carolina and two points behind New Jersey, Florida and the Islanders.

Currently, the Bolts find themselves six points behind Toronto for third spot in the Atlantic and seven points behind Philadelphia for the last Wild Card spot in the conference, so there’s still hope for them.

As close as they are to a postseason berth, their poor play in 2017 just can’t be ignored. In their 15 games since Jan. 3, they have an ugly 4-9-2 record.

On a positive note, they were able to put their three-game losing streak to bed with a 3-2 shootout win over the Ducks on Saturday night. But if they want to be playing games in late April, they’ll have to go on a long run.

“To start getting points, you have to start playing the right way and be consistent,” forward Alex Killorn said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t think we were consistent in the last two games after the (All-Star) break (last weekend). (Saturday) it seemed like a really consistent three-period effort, something we haven’t had a ton of. This is something we want to use going into the next game.”

They’ll attempt to string back-to-back wins together for the first time since Dec. 20-22, when they took down the Red Wings and Blues.

The Kings currently sit in the top Wild Card spot in the West, but a postseason birth is still far from being a sure thing for them.

They’re one point up the St. Louis Blues, who own the other Wild Card spot and just two points ahead of the Flames, who are on the outside looking in.

The Kings went into Sunday’s game in Washington riding a five-game winning streak, but that came to a crashing halt, as they were dismantled, 5-0, by the Caps (you can watch the highlights by clicking the video at the top of the page).

“Yeah, I mean, it obviously wasn’t a good effort for us,” said defenseman Jake Muzzin, per LAKingsinsider.com. “As a team with that firepower we have to control the puck better and we didn’t do a good job tonight. Our execution wasn’t good and we gave them opportunities to score and they capitalized on it so can’t let it trickle in to the rest of our road trip here. Learn from it and get back to the way we were playing before and carry that in to Tampa.”

Last month, the Lightning beat the Kings in Los Angeles, 2-1, thanks to a stellar performance from Ben Bishop.

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