Making his first start since Oct. 17 in a 7-4 loss to the Florida Panthers, Roloson stopped all 28 shots he faced to earn his 29th career shutout as the Lightning blanked the Winnipeg Jets, 1-0, at the St. Pete Times Forum Saturday night.
No talk of redemption for Roloson, who instead praised his teammates.
“To be honest with you, our guys blocked a lot of shots in front of me,” Roloson said. “They did some things in our end that me see the puck real well.”
Though he was impressed with his starter's performance in the game, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he expected Roloson to be ready.
“He bounced back, so absolutely no surprise there,” Boucher added. “I can certainly vouch for his character. His mind set has never changed and he will continue to prove it over and over.”
Vincent Lecavalier scored the lone goal of the game for Tampa Bay, which following a 5-3 loss to Nashville on Thursday in the team’s mot recent outing, has now won four of its past five.
The victory was the Lightning’s 12th straight over the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, good for the NHL’s longest active win streak by one team over a single opponent. The last victory in the series for the relocated Jets came on Oct. 3, 2009, when Atlanta beat Tampa Bay 6-3. Tampa Bay also improved its perfect record on Hockey Fights Cancer Night to 12-0-0.
“We really battled tonight,” Lecavalier said. “I thought we played a solid game.”
Despite Tampa Bay holding just a slim margin in shots, 11-10, after the first period, the teams went into the locker room at the intermission in a scoreless tie. The lack of scoring was not due to a scarcity of solid scoring chances on both ends, but rather an outstanding duel between both clubs’ goaltenders.
Midway through the first, a solid look from Steven Stamkos on an odd-man rush was turned away by Ondrej Pavelec, who also stopped a similar attempt from Steve Downie with just over three minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The trend continued in the second frame, when Pavelec made another pair of key saves, including one on Ryan Shannon and an additional stop on Lecavalier with the Lightning on the power play.
Roloson, too, was impressive, perhaps making his biggest save on the night with six minutes remaining in the second period. With Evander Kane on a breakaway, Roloson stuck his right pad out to keep a backhand from getting past him before stopping an ensuing rebound attempt by Alexander Burmistrov to keep things scoreless.
He improved to 10-0-0 in 14 games against the Winnipeg/Atlanta club.
“Everybody had been questioning him, which is easy to do after a guy has a slow start or a bad game,” Lecavalier added. “But for the last five or six years, he’s been doing unbelievable. He showed again tonight that he’s a great goalie and he was leading us out there tonight for sure.”
Lecavalier finally put the game’s first goal on the board while on the power play at 19:20 of the second. With Jets defenseman Mark Stuart off for two minutes due to a holding call, Pavelec was slow to back in position after an initial shot on goal. Lecavalier noticed the opening and sent a shot into the open side of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“He surprised me,” Pavelec said. “I made a rebound and I didn’t know it went into the corner, but I thought it was out by the blue line. I didn’t see him at all, but he gave it a good shot.”
With an assist on the goal, Stamkos now has points in six straight games.
The Jets almost drew even within the game’s final seconds.
Several Winnipeg players jammed at the puck in front of the net, but the scrum in front was eventually blown dead with the official’s whistle with four seconds to go.
After scoring nine goals in a 9-8 win over Philadelphia on Thursday, it appeared the Jets had nothing left. After notching a goal and an assist in the win two days ago versus the Flyers, Jets centerman Alexander Burmistrov had his six-game point streak snapped. He had three goals and eight points during that stretch.
“I thought we played well, the goals just weren’t going in for us,” Jets forward Bryan Little said. “You have to give credit to their goalie Roloson. He played pretty good and made a lot of good saves, especially near the end.”