"When's the last time one of our coaches goes in the room and says, `We're tied for first place?"' Demers said. "Certainly not last year."
"I know it's only going into November, but it builds confidence," said Demers, the coach-general manager. "Last year we would have beaten ourselves in a game like this, but the difference now is that we're not beating ourselves."
Daymond Langkow snapped a scoreless tie with his first goal of the season in the third period and Tampa Bay scored two empty-net goals in the final 30 seconds. The Lightning has won four of their last five.
"It's a good confidence-builder for our team, but we're not satisfied with what we've done the last five games," left wing Sandy McCarthy said. "We want it going all year like that."
Langkow's rebound sailed over the outstretched right arm of rookie goalie Manny Legace, hit the right post and bounced in at 2:21 after the Kings had turned the puck over at the blue line. Alex Selivanov assisted.
"I think it rolled over my shoulder, hit the post and barely made it in," Legace said. "It was kind of fluky, just kept rolling. The puck was a little bouncy."
Darcy Tucker and Cory Cross scored empty-net goals in the final 30 seconds. The Lightning dominated the third period, outshooting the Kings 15-8.
Daren Puppa stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the season and helped the Lightning beat the Kings for the second time in a week. Tampa Bay won 3-2 last Friday and won the season series after losing both games to Los Angeles last season.
"We had some great chances to score and Puppa came up with some great saves," Kings coach Larry Robinson said. "We tried to be physical and ran out of gas at the end. Maybe we didn't win, but the effort was there from start to finish."
Legace, making his Forum debut in his sixth game since being called up on an emergency basis Oct. 19, stopped 25 shots. He's given up eight goals in those games.
"We're not getting the bounces. We had some great opportunities to score and Puppa came up with some great saves," Legace said. "It'll come. We just have to keep working hard."
There were few good scoring chances for either team until late. Puppa stopped Glen Murray on a drive up the right side at 12:59 of the third. A shot by Ray Ferraro ended up in Puppa's pads with about four minutes remaining.
Rob Blake of the Kings had the only shot on goal in the game's opening 11 minues. The teams combined for just 13 shots in the first period.
Each team had a power-play opportunity in the second period, when the Kings outshot Tampa Bay 13-6. The Kings have killed 50 of 51 penalties this season, including 39 straight.
Los Angeles, coming off a five-game East Coast trip, is 2-3-1 in its last six games. Tampa Bay split against Southern California's two teams, having opened its four-game road trip with a 5-3 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night.
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