Tampa Bay Lightning will be hosting the Los Angeles Kings in an NHL four-match home stand.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that has maintained an elite status over the past few years, has recently been falling short of the expected results this season. With 19 wins and 43 points, they currently stand outside the play-off zone. Their performances have been inconsistent, interchanging between wins and losses, with their last game ending in a 3:7 defeat to Boston. During their third period against Boston, the score was 4:3 until the Lightning conceded three late goals. They have managed to beat teams such as Washington, Montreal, Vegas, St. Louis, and Edmonton, although not all these clubs are currently formidable contenders. The Lightning have a home record of 13 wins, 6 losses and an away record of 9 wins, 13 losses.
The team has been plagued with injuries to key players. Tanner Jeanne, for instance, suffered an injury and couldn't return to the match against Boston. Injuries were also sustained by Nick Pauls, Erik Cernak and Hayden Flurry. Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 67 points, including 28 goals. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is making a comeback after an injury, has an average save percentage of 89.31% and averages 3 goals conceded per game. An injury to the Russian defenceman Sergachev has caused him to miss 7 matches, with his return still left uncertain.
Los Angeles Kings are experiencing a tough period in the season, having suffered five consecutive losses, including a recent one against Washington with a 3:4 scoreline. This defeat is part of a three-match home series that has further deteriorated the Kings' third-place standing in the Pacific division. Notwithstanding the fact that the team has a record of 13-2-1 in away games and 4-4-2 in their last ten matches, they especially struggle when facing teams like Detroit, Washington, Vegas, Edmonton, and Toronto. Despite Kevin Fiala scoring two goals in their last game, it wasn't enough to deter the team's loss. Goaltender Phoenix Coply, a key player from the last season, underwent surgery on his meniscus and will miss the rest of the season.
In this period of difficulty, Adrian Kempe stands out, managing to gather 36 points in 37 matches, including 6 goals and 9 points in the last 7 games. Trevor Moore also displays an excellent form, leading the team with 17 goals in 35 matches. Team captain Anze Kopitar, with 35 points in 35 games, is also delivering good results. Cam Talbot, the goalie, with records of 14-9-3, is letting in an average of 2.10 goals per game with a 92.24% save percentage, but still isn't enough to salvage the situation. Russian player Vladislav Gavrikov is also contributing, having scored 3 goals and made 7 assists in 30 matches. Kevin Fiala maintains a high level of play with 33 points in 36 games, and Kopitar continues to hold his ground, tallying 11 points in his last 11 games.
The Kings have a dire record against Tampa Bay, with only 3 matches scoring and 11 losses in 12 games. Since 2017, they have only managed one win against Tampa Bay - a 4:2 victory on October 26, 2022. In the most recent matches, Tampa Bay has triumphed with scores of 6:4, 4:2, and 5:2.
Considering the phenomenal performance of Kucherov amidst the often underwhelming team tribulations, I wouldn't back the Lightning, even at home. Neither do the Kings, with their recent streak of five consecutive losses, appear to be strong contestants for the 3 points. I expect the total score in the upcoming match to exceed 5.5 goals. Both teams are currently facing substantial issues in their defense, with the Lightning letting in 7 goals in their last match and generally breaching this total in 7 of their last 10 matches. Conversely, despite their recent losses, the Kings possess the ability to score many goals, and I foresee them scoring at least 1-2 goals in this match.