It's another key pivot game for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight

The Lightning are in a playoff spot, but not by much
Jan 9, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nick Perbix (48) shoots against the
Jan 9, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nick Perbix (48) shoots against the / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Fourty-two games into the regular season and the Tampa Bay Lightning are officially into the back half of their season. Following their overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings, the Lightning are 20-17-5 on the season with 45 points through 42 games.

The Lightning enter tonight one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils, their opponent tonight, for the second wild card spot in the east. The Devils however have four games in hand on the Lightning, making tonight's contest a pivotal pivot game for the Lightning.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Devil You Know

A dreadful stretch for the Devils in November that saw them lose six games during a seven game stretch has left them playing catchup in the playoff race. After a 112 point season in 2022-23, the Devils have been one of the disappointments of the 2023-24 NHL season.

And while New Jersey has won five of their last seven, they are having to trudge forward without their star Jack Hughes. He has 45 points through 32 games, but is currently out week-to-week with an upper body injury.

This leaves the Devils to lean on the breakout season Jesper Bratt is having. Bratt had back-to-back seasons of 73 points the past two years but is currently on pace to top 90 points for the first time in his career.

After having a breakout season with Calgary last season, Tyler Toffoli is having a decent but not elite season. He has 28 points through 38 games.

Ondrej Palat, who hasn't had a great season, has been out since last week with a lower body injury.

Vegas Says...

On paper this game feels like a toss up, but Vegas seems to like the Lightning in this one. As a -145 favorite, Tampa are one of the more favorited teams on the night.

The over/under is at the standard 6.5 goals.

In the last six meetings between Tampa and New Jersey, the two have hit the over in four of those matchups.