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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
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Tampa Bay Lightning

Goalie Smith provides needed spark for Lightning

TAMPA - With the Lightning in desperate need of a jolt late in the opening period, coach Guy Boucher went to his trusty DMC — designated momentum changer. Enter backup goaltender Mike Smith, who was toiling in the minor leagues three months ago. On Saturday, Smith provided a major spark, blanking the Boston Bruins the rest of the way in relief of Dwayne Roloson as the Lightning rallied for a 5-3 triumph that tied the Eastern Conference finals at two games. "I'm very proud of Mike Smith,'' said Roloson, whose departure with 2:02 remaining in the first period marked the second time in three games he was yanked by Boucher. "He came in and played amazing for us, making some huge saves. Obviously, it was the right decision — we came back and won.''
Smith turned away all 21 shots after Boston jumped to a 3-0 advantage on a flurry of Tampa Bay mistakes. "We got behind the eight ball in the first period,'' said Smith, the centerpiece of the 2008 trade that sent Brad Richards to Dallas. "It's one of those games where every turnover we had went in the net, not because Roli didn't play well.'' After the dynamic comeback, Boucher indicated Roloson would be back in goal to start Monday's Game 5 in Boston. "We have our No. 1 goaltender," Boucher said. "He's taken us to this place right now. And that's the reason why we're here. And we have our — Smitty has been terrific. "… We just finished this game now. We're happy we just beat a terrific team and we're just happy that we were a lot harder to play against. And Smitty was a part of it and Roloson — it doesn't change the status." Smith replaced Roloson after two periods of Game 2 with Tampa Bay trailing 6-3. The Lightning dropped an eventual 6-5 decision, but Smith played well. Smith has stopped all 29 shots he has faced in this series. "I don't expect to (start Game 5),'' he said. "But I'll be ready to. Roli's carried us through the playoffs this far and I don't expect anything less than for him to come back and have a great game.'' Once Roloson departed, Tampa Bay's defense stiffened in front of Smith, whose toughest challenge came five minutes into the third period when he stopped Milan Lucic from the bottom of the left faceoff circle. "As a goalie, every goal you give up is a bad one, but you can't focus on it,'' Roloson said. "You've got to give your guys a chance to win, no matter what happens. I didn't do that today and Smitty came in and did the job for us. I told him to go out there and have some fun … and he did.'' ikaufman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7833
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