The Tampa Bay Lightning have enjoyed a lot of success lately. Heading into Friday, they are 7-1-2 in their last ten games, and they are back in the thick of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. With most teams hovering around 20 games remaining in their schedules, there really isn't a game that the Lightning can afford to miss out on points. Heading into Friday, they are behind four teams for the 2nd Wild Card spot and must continue to exert pressure on the teams above them. In order to do that, they'll have to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that the Pens host.

Not a bad time to play the Penguins

Right now certainly isn't the worst time to be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Considered an elite team, Sidney Crosby's group are just 5-3-2 in their last ten games and have lost ground to both Washington and Columbus. The former are now 9 points clear of Pittsburgh and appear likely to win another Metropolitan Division championship. The situation for Pitt, losers of two straight, is such that they could end up in a Wild Card position if they don't play well down the stretch. The New York Rangers, currently in the Wild Card race, are nibbling at Pittsburgh's toes for a top-three position in the Metro.

Tampa Bay look good in net

The Tampa Bay Lightning certainly did well as the trade deadline neared.

They offloaded Ben Bishop to Los Angeles, freed up some salary cap room, and acquired Peter Budaj. Budaj played a ton of time in Los Angeles this season, filling in for Jonathan Quick. His stats to date are better than Bishop's, and GM Steve Yzerman has to feel good about the move he made.

But although TB is looking strong of late as Pitt look mediocre, a big key to the game is the fact that the Pens are hosting.

They are 25-4-3 as hosts, a devastatingly strong record in the NHL where teams usually are much more vulnerable than that, even as hosts. The Lightning aren't great on the road this season as they are just 12-14-6 for a straight-up record of 12-20.

Game time on Friday is at 7 pm ET from Pittsburgh. Heading into the Pens' house, the Lightning might be happy to take away one point on the night.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!