Dominic Moore is hesitant to use the word “clutch” to describe his habit of late-game heroics and a flare for the dramatic, but his play, several of his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates and even his head coach seem to dictate otherwise.
In Tuesday's 5-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins, Moore's blast from the top of the left faceoff circle beat goalie Tim Thomas to snap a 3-3 tie with 3:45 left in the third period and help the Lightning break its season-high seven-game losing streak.
It was a startling display from a player known more for getting in the dirty areas in the slot and in front of the net, where goals rarely are pretty, and are scored with shots from in close, deftly-placed backhands and rebounds.
And it, too, was the latest game-winner for Moore in a string of plays dating back to last season that has deemed the Bolts forward, as head coach Guy Boucher puts it, "a money player."
"I don't know about that," Moore said of the moniker. "That's not really for me to say."
Oh yes, it is.
Before he even joined the Lightning prior to the 2010-11 season, Moore was already making a name for himself as a big-game performer.
As a member of the Montreal Canadiens, it was his goal at 3:36 of the third period in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that eliminated the top-seeded Washington Capitals from the postseason.
A perfect display in which a player rises to the moment, and turns it into a memory.
"You know, no one really gave us a chance in that series, especially down three-games-to-one against the top team in the conference," Moore said. "We came back and I remember just finding a loose puck along the boards, bringing it in and I think I beat [Semyon] Varlamov right underneath his arm to the far post. So it was definitely memorable."
With the Lightning, Moore has recorded the game-deciding goal in four of the team's past five shootout wins. Two of those came on back-to-back nights in January of 2011, while the other pair happened this season in victories against the division-rival Panthers and the New York Rangers, on Nov. 6 and Dec. 8, respectively.
"He is,"teammate Nate Thompson said, "clutch."
Of course, fans saw that up close and personal on Tuesday night, too.
Boucher said he believes Moore has another dimension to his game, in particular a mental one, to kick things into a different gear when the game is on the line and the team is need of a hero to step up.
"He's one of those guys where when the pressure is on, something triggers in his mind that the more he wants it, the more he is up for the challenge," the coach said."With the attitude and the work ethic that he has, and with the opportunity, comes success."
And in Moore's case, on more than one occasion.