Coming off an emotional, hard fought game, and win, in Dallas last night the Tampa Bay Lightning knew tonight would be about weathering the storm. The Bolts did just that, thanks in large part to stellar play by goaltender Dwayne Roloson, beating former goaltender Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3.
The Bolts, though largely outshot, opened up an early 3-0 lead before the Yotes were able to get on the score sheet. Steven Stamkos opened the scoring about 12 minutes in, taking a Marty St. Louis pass in the right slot and going top shelf, past the glove of Smith, for his league-leading 32nd goal. Just about three minutes later Teddy Purcell, who had a hat trick the last time these two teams met, grabbed a rebound of a Pavel Kubina shot from the point and fired it top shelf past Smith for a 2-0 Lightning lead.
Just over six minutes into period 2 a nice pass from AHL Norfolk call up Trevor Smith sprung St. Louis for his 11th goal of the season, making it 3-0 Lightning. Another Norfolk call up, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, had the other assist on Marty’s goal, giving him his first career NHL point. About two minutes later, with the Lightning on the power play, the Coyotes Lauri Korpikoski scored shorthanded to cut into the Lightning lead. However, with three and a half minutes remaining in the period, Steve Downie‘s shot from the point found its way past Smith’s glove, restoring the Lightning’s three goal lead heading into the second intermission.
The Lightning came out flat, and seemed to be battling uphill, in the third period. That was to be expected, as guys were beginning to tire after playing two games in two cities, and two time zones, in less than 24 hours. It ended up costing them a couple goals but, thanks in large part to Roloson, not the game. Keith Yandle scored for the Coyotes about three and a half minutes into the third, cutting the Lightning lead to 4-2. Then, after a lot of great Roloson saves, and a scare when Roloson had his neck jammed with about five minutes remaining, a penalty by Stamkos gave the Coyotes a power play and Ray Whitney wasted no time scoring to cut the Lightning lead to 4-3 with about four minutes remaining.
Roloson, who won a game for the first time since November 17th, 2011 against Pittsburgh, finished with 33 saves on 36 shots faced, with many of those, especially in the second and third period, being high-quality. Smith finished with 17 saves on 21 shots faced for the Coyotes.
The Lightning, now at 44 points, head home, looking to build on this three game win streak when they begin a five-game homestand at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tuesday night Jan 24th at 7:30pm against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Let’s keep things going boys!! To all Lightning fans: BE READY and BE THE THUNDER!!!
You can contact me, Lauren Burg, on Twitter @TBLightning491 and Bolts by the Bay @Boltsbythebay on Twitter.