Facing former teammate Mike Smith for the first time in his new role as Phoenix Coyotes goaltender, several Tampa Bay Lightning players said they hoped to sneak a few pucks past an old friend.
On Saturday night, they did just that.
The Lightning have now won back-to-back road games for the first time all season after also earning a 2-1 victory in Dallas on Friday night.
“It’s one of those games that we want to build off of,” Roloson said.“We’ll forget about it after tonight, but hope to come back and keep this winning streak going.”
Tampa Bay had gone 0-6-1 to open the month of January before rebounding with a pair of wins against the Bruins and Stars earlier in the week.
They beat the Coyotes for the 10th time in the past 12 meetings, and much like last season’s 8-3 rout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Bolts made it look easy early.
Stamkos put the Lightning up 1-0 after taking a feed from Martin St. Louis and wristing one into the net before Smith could slide back across the crease into position.
Tampa Bay then went up 2-0 just 3:37 later when Purcell converted a rebound in front to double the lead.
“Obviously when we get a pair of goals right away, it gives us momentum and a little bit of confidence,” Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said.
After St. Louis extended the lead to 3-0 at 6:15 of the second, Phoenix finally got on the board when Lauri Korpikoski scored while shorthanded to cut the deficit to two.
Keith Yandle also had a goal for the Coyotes, which have now lost three straight and six of the past seven.
Ray Whitney added a late power-play goal with 3:59 left to go in regulation.
The 42-year-old Roloson, who led Tampa Bay to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final last season after replacing Smith, was sharp for the majority of the contest, stopping 15 shots alone in the first period. He was knocked to the ice by Martin Hanzal with five minutes to go in the final period, but stayed in the game to record the win.
“I don’t know what happened there to be honest,” Roloson said. “I had my head in the corner looking for the puck and the next thing I knew I was face down on the ice. All it took was a few vertebrae to snap back in place and I was able to finish the game.”
Both teams lost players in the first period. The Lightning, already without seven injured players, lost left wing Ryan Malone to an upper-body injury. Phoenix, meanwhile, playing without defensemen Adrian Aucoin and David Schlemko, lost blueliner Derek Morris, which shook up the defensive pairings and led to coverage problems that proved costly.
Downie put the Lightning back up by three at 16:39 of the second when his slap shot from the right circle snuck past Smith to make it 4-1. Yandle and Whitney then scored twice in a span of 12:26 during the final period to bring the Coyotes to within one. Phoenix then got a golden opportunity to draw even and send the match into overtime after Stamkos took a bad penalty with 26.1 seconds left to give the Coyotes a 6-on-4 advantage, but Roloson was equal to the task in holding off the offensive barrage to earn the win.
“Our guys did a great job of keeping them to the outside and blocking a lot of shots,” Roloson added. “I thought they really battled.”
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