To say that the Tampa Bay Lightning is clicking on all cylinders as a team is an understatement. Tampa Bay played an all around game in their very solid 4-0 win over the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Flyers last night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
41-year-old Dwayne Roloson continues to play like the seasoned veteran the Lightning needed him to be when they acquired him as the Bolts won their sixth game in a row.
The Lightning handed the NHL’s best road team, the Flyers, just their sixth road loss of the season and only their second loss in their last 13 games. Improving to 3-0 on the year against the eastern Conference’s best team left the Bolts feeling confident that much bigger things may be on the horizon.
The Flyers had no idea what hit them as the Lightning scored two goals and led 2-0 before Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had even cycled through all of his lines.
Roloson was spectacular at times last evening making 38 saves, earning his second consecutive shutout and fourth since joining the Bolts on New Year’s Day.Right Winger Teddy Purcell continued his hot streak, scoring the first two goals of the game.
Just after the opening face-off play stuttered around in the neutral zone before former Flyer Simon Gagne gained control of the puck and found Purcell witha pass just at the blue line. Purcell then played give and go with Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier found Purcell on the go 10 feet from Bobrovsky, burying the puck for his ninth of the season, just .19 seconds into the game. Number 10 was not far off.
Just One minute and one second later Purcell would score his tenth. Originally credited to Simon Gagne, Purcell received credit for the goal between the first and second intermission as the puck was found to have bounced off his leg and into the Flyers net.
“It’s a big win,” Purcell said. “Coming out of the break, we really didn’t know what to expect. We came out fresh and we were jumping in the first period and got off to a big lead.”
Purcell and Gagne have been on fire for the Bolts recently. Purcell notched his seventh point in just three games and Gagne continued to heat up. Gagne now has five points in his last three games and is looking healthy as he is flying around the ice.
For the second consecutive game against the Flyers, the Bolts would chase the starting goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky could not add to his rookie leading win total last night managing just one period of play. Brian Boucher replaced him for the final two periods.
The Bolts would add to their first period lead, as Steve Downiewould score his fifth of the season after taking a defensive zone pass from Martin St. Louis. Downie beat Bobrovsky at the 14:24 mark of the first period.
St. Louis would add two assists last night, closing the gap on the top dish man in the NHL, Henrik Sedin. St. Louis now trails Sedin by nine assists for the league lead.
Steven Stamkos would close out the Bolts scoring in the third period. Stamkos converted a perfectly placed pass from St. Louis, snaping a shot past Brian Boucher and scoring his league leading 39th goal in the process.
If there was any cause for concern last evening it was the fact that the Lightning was heavily out-shot. Philadelphia would out shoot Tampa in every period and more than doubled them up in the third period, 11-5. Philly ended the game with a 38-to-22 shot advantage.
The six straight wins is the longest streak for the Lightning since an eight-game winning streak from Feb. 23-March 6, 2004, and is the second six-game streak in team history.
The Lightning while being out shot, played tight defensively in front of Roloson. The Flyers were kept pinned to the outside and were forced into some bad scoring chances. The Bolts kept the front of the net clear for the most part, allowing Roloson to see many of his shots head on.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher was thrilled with his teams play as he seems to have the Lightning playing their best all around hockey in almost six years.
Boucher said, “We were hard to get through defensively, and we didn’t give turnovers to the opponent. This was one of our best games boxing out, hunting for sticks in front of the net. So, today everybody did their job, including the goaltender.”
The goaltender, Dwayne Roloson is also thrilled with his play but knows that you cannot dwell to long on the negatives and positives in an 82 game schedule. Rolson commented following the game,”
“An old coach used to tell me we have 12 hours to think about this game, and after 12 hours and one minute, you forget about it,” Roloson said. “So, we relish it, but at the same time forget about it and go past it.”
Giving credit to his defense Roloson continued, “We have a great defensive corps, a great offensive corps, and they’re allowing me to see pucks,” it’s a lot of fun to play behind them.” Roloson helped them out his defense too, controlling just about every rebound he faced around the net.
Rolosn has not been to the playoffs since he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. He went 12-5 in the post season that year as Edmonton surprised everyone making it all the way to the Cup finals eventually losing in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Last night was career shutout number 28 for Rolo and since joining the Bolts he is 8-3-0 with 2.02 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.
The Bolts are now 3-0 on their record tying 12 game home stand and are 17-4-2 at home, good for the best home record in the NHL.
Their next opponent is a team that has faced Roloson twice since he has been in a Bolts sweater and he has shut them out both times. The second place Washington Capitals come to the Times Forum on Friday night and with the way the Caps are struggling on offense, a third straight shutout in as many games is not out of the question.