Is there a goalie controversy brewing in the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room? Doesn't seem like it.
Though regular starter Dwayne Roloson
was pulled in the first period of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday -- after allowing three goals on nine shots in the first 17:58 -- and backup Mike Smith shined in relief, stopping all 21 shots he faced, all signs point to Roloson remaining as Tampa Bay's No. 1 goalie heading into Monday night's Game 5 in Boston.
Though Lightning head coach Guy Boucher didn't directly say it, he hinted that Roloson will be in the net come the opening faceoff Monday night.
"We're preparing like usual," Boucher told reporters at Monday's morning skate. "[Roloson is] preparing like he prepared for all the other games, so we're prepared."
The series is tied 2-2 after Tampa Bay completed a stunning comeback in Game 4. Down 3-0 after one period, the Lightning stormed back with five unanswered goals over the final 40 minutes to grab a 5-3 victory.
Smith was spectacular over those last 40 minutes, including several key saves in the third period. It was the second relief appearance for Smith in the series as he was also called upon in Game 2. In all, Smith has stopped all 29 shots he's faced while the Lightning have outscored the Bruins 7-0 with him in the net.
Still, Roloson has been Tampa Bay's No. 1 goalie ever since he was acquired from a mid-season trade with the Islanders. Roloson has shined throughout the playoffs, too. He steered the Lightning to an eight game winning streak in rounds one and two, matching Hall of Famer Jacques Plante for the longest playoff winning streak in NHL history for a goalie over the age of 40.
The Lightning seem to recognize Roloson's importance to the team, including Smith, who predicted Roloson to be Tampa Bay's starter again on Monday night.
"I don't expect to (start Game 5),'' Smith told reporters after Saturday's victory. "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.''
Author: Emily Kaplan | NHL.com Staff Writer