Few contenders heading into Monday’s deadline required little to no tinkering. Well, just one really.
The Tampa Bay Lightning took the ‘if-it-ain’t-broke’ mentality into the day and decided not to mess with their really good thing. The top team in the National Hockey League then went out on Monday night and once again did what it has done pretty much all year: win.
A 4-3 shootout triumph over the Los Angeles Kings was Tampa’s ninth straight, matched a team consecutive win record set in 2016 and helped them become just the fourth team in league history to reach 100 points in 63 games or fewer.
Win No. 48 wasn’t that easy, however.
The Bolts led 2-0 thanks to first-period strikes from Brayden Point — his 36th — and Anthony Cirelli and were cruising until they hit a speed bump in the third period.
Perhaps lulled to sleep by the Kings, Los Angeles scored three unanswered in just under six minutes to take an unexpected 3-2.
Alex Iafallo scored off his shin pad, Jonny Brodzinski tied the game on a one-timer off a turnover from Andrei Vasilevskiy 5:10 later and Austin Wagner scored 46 seconds after that to take a 3-2 lead.
The goal burst came after the Kings owned the possession at a 60/40 split in the period. after being dominated throughout the first two periods.
J.T. Miller tied the game not long after Wagner gave the Kings the lead, scoring off an ugly turnover.
Drew Doughty said earlier in the day that the Kings need to play with pride down the stretch. Los Angeles came into the game riding a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2) and sat in last place in the Western Conference with 52 points.
Their lot in life didn’t change much with Monday’s loss, but taking a point from the Lightning was a good step in the right direction when it comes to closing out the season with their best foot forward.
Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of 33 saves in the game, and perhaps none bigger than the one above late in the third period on Dustin Brown.
Jack Campbell was solid at the other end for the Kings, stopping 31 of 34.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck