TAMPA, Fla. -- This has been a roller-coaster season for Mike Smith.
He's missed time with an injury, been sent to the minors and officially been the backup goaltender for the first time in his three-plus seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And yet there he was Saturday afternoon, stopping all 21 shots he faced in relief of starter Dwayne Roloson to help his team to a dramatic 5-3 comeback victory against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Smith replaced Roloson after he had allowed three goals on nine shots in the first 17:58. It was the second relief appearance for Smith in the series; he has stopped all 29 shots he's faced, and the Lightning have outscored the Bruins 7-0 with him in net.
"He did a great job," Simon Gagne said. "Talking to him after the game in Boston, he felt very comfortable and confident. We knew with that change that we were going to be OK."
Here's what Smith had to say after the game:
Q: When you got the call, what did you think?
A: I didn't have time to think. It is just one of those things where we got behind the eight-ball there in the first. That's what I'm on the bench for -- to come in and settle the team down and give a little bit of change in momentum and it ended up working out.
Q: Was the first thing to get back in the game first of all to stop their offense?
A: Absolutely. But the main thing in the first period was we skated really well, but we didn't manage the puck very well. I think that was the main thing after the first was to manage the puck better and it worked out better for us on offense.
Q: Were you surprised that you got the call for Roloson there?
A: You can never be surprised. You have to be ready at all times. It was one of those games that every turnover we had ended up in our net and not because [Roloson] didn't play well but because stuff like that happens. Just have to be ready to go.
Q: Based on the way that you played, do you expect to play in the next game?
A: I don't expect to. I'll be ready to. [Roloson] has 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. I'll be ready to go, but I'm sure [Roloson] will want to get back in there and be ready to go as well.
Q: What does this do for your team's psyche going back to Boston at 2-2?
A: It is a big win, but we've been a team all playoffs to enjoy it now but forget about in 12 hours. When the next game comes we don't worry about this game anymore. It will all be focused on the next game.
Q: This comeback has to play in somebody's head?
A: I don't know about that, but we've been a team that comes back all year. We never give up in here and just push forward and not dwell on what's happened and focus on what we can control and the next step and just be focused on the next goal. After that we're focused on the next one and the one after that and so on. That's what we do.
Q: You've been a through a lot here -- injuries, sent to the minors at one point. To go through all of that, what does it say you've stuck to it?
A: Mentally stronger -- that's pretty well it. I've been a guy that had all the ability, but mentally as a goaltender you have to be sharp. That's probably been my downfall in the past and I'm learning how to deal with that now. So far it is working out.
Q: When you come back and tie it at 3-3, do you think, ‘I can't let in this next goal?'
A: No, you can't think like that or it is going to happen. You have to be positive and think you're the biggest goalie in the League and tell them no one is going to score on you and focus on the next shot.