Christmas Roundup: Lightning Move Into First

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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning mob teammate Ryan Malone after Malone scored the game winning goal during the shootout in an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

It has been a hectic week for the Tampa Bay Lightning, a stretch that has seen the Bolts take over first place in the Southeast Division.

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 22: John Tavares of the New York Islanders scores the winning goal in overtime against Dan Ellis of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nassau Coliseum on December 22, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In the first game at Nassau Coliseum against the New York Islanders, it was one of those games that produced an increasingly bad feeling the longer the game went along for the Lightning.

Over the years, we’ve seen it hundreds of times in the NHL – one team totally and completely outplaying the other, a red hot goaltender keeping his club in the game, just long enough for his teammates to rally as they muster just enough offense to pull out a victory.

It’s called stealing a game.

And that is exactly what Dwayne Roloson did for the lowly Islanders on Wednesday night.

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 22: Dwayne Roloson of the New York Islanders makes the save against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nassau Coliseum on December 22, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Roloson was spectacular in coming up with 34 saves, especially in a first period that saw Tampa outshoot New York, 16-3.

The Islanders were able to escape the opening frame trailing only 1-0, when it could have been much worse.

Ryan Malone scored on the Bolts’ first power play of the game midway through the first to give the Lightning the lead, but they could not capitalize on any of the ensuing five man advantages the rest of the way.

But they did have their opportunities.

Teddy Purcell looked a bit like sniping teammate Steven Stamkos, as he ripped a one-timer from the left faceoff circle.  The shot beat Roloson cleanly, but drilled squarely off of the crossbar and stayed out.

Roloson held New York in the game, awaiting his team’s offensive response.

It finally came in the waning seconds of the second frame, as P.A. Parenteau beat Dan Ellis with just 17 ticks left on the clock.

After a scoreless third, the Isles dominated play in overtime, outshooting Tampa 5-1.  On the fifth shot of the extra period, John Tavares got to a rebound ahead of Ellis and was able to push it into the open side of the net to give New York the win.

The game marked the first time that the Islanders, who came into the game 2-17-4 in their previous 23 contests, have been able to overcome the opposition scoring the game’s first goal (0-15-3 coming into the game), and when trailing after the first period (0-13-3 before last night).

Even though they went down in defeat, the point picked up by the Lightning went a long way in helping the club push to the top of the division.  

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