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Lightning top Oilers 3-2 in shootout

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA -- For one night in a season that has seen little go right for him, 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson looked like a kid again.

Roloson made 34 saves through overtime and four more in the shootout as the Tampa Bay Lightning topped the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Thursday night. After Teddy Purcell beat Nikolai Khabibulin to start the sixth round of the tiebreaker, Ryan Smyth's shot clanged off the post -- giving Roloson his first win since Feb. 16 against San Jose.

"Rollie played great," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "He was solid, looked in control. We really liked his game, definitely."

Added forward Tom Pyatt, who scored both of Tampa Bay's goals in regulation: "He looked 22."

It's been a tough season for Roloson, the hero of the Lightning's run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. He never really found his groove all season, lost the starting job to now-injured Mathieu Garon and entered the game with a 3.77 goals-against average and a save percentage of just .880.

Roloson, who had lost his last three decisions, ended his losing streak against the team he led to the 2006 Final.

"There isn't anything personal," Roloson said. "It's just going out and playing hockey and doing what you have to do to give the guys a chance to win. There isn't anything except for that."

It was a disappointing homecoming for the 39-year-old Khabibulin, who finished with 19 saves. He was playing his first game at the building now known as the Tampa Bay Times Forum since leading the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup by winning Game 7 against Calgary.

"We wanted to get this one for him," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said of Khabibulin, who hadn't played since March 10. "The guys talked about that, and certainly he wanted it."

Pyatt sandwiched a pair of second-period goals around one by Edmonton's Linus Omark to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead after two periods. But the Oilers dominated the third period, outshooting the Lightning 11-1 and tying the game with 3:47 left in regulation when defenseman Tomas Smid scored his first goal in 38 games, beating Roloson from the lower left circle off a nice pass by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

"Obviously you don't want to give up that goal late," Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos said. "When someone works as hard as he (Roloson) does in practice, it was nice to get the win for him."

Stamkos prolonged the game by scoring in the third round of the shootout after Sam Gagner had scored in the second. Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis and Edmonton's Ales Hemsky matched goals in the fourth round before Purcell won it in the sixth round.

"To be honest, I didn't see any of the shootout goals," Boucher said. "The guys on the bench were all standing up and I never look at the shootout anyway, so I have no clue how our guys scored."

The win was a bounce-back effort for the Lightning (33-33-7), who were coming off a 7-3 pasting by Buffalo on Monday and had dropped four of their last five during a seven-game homestand that concludes Saturday night against the Islanders.

"That's what we were after, we had two solid practices after the last game and we focused on some very specific things," Boucher said. "We wanted to take care of the first 20 minutes. We didn't look at winning or losing the game, we just wanted the first 20 minutes."

The first 20 minutes ended without a goal, though the Lightning were outshot 15-7.

Pyatt got things going for the Tampa Bay early in the second period. His first goal, a power-play tally, opened the scoring at 3:24 of the second period; his second goal gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 1:42 left in the period. Pyatt's two goals give him 10 for the season -- he had scored just twice in each of his previous two NHL seasons with Montreal.

Purcell's deciding goal came on a perfect backhander after a deke left Khabibulin out of position. The Lightning then got a break when Smyth beat Roloson cleanly but hit iron.

"I thought we worked hard," Renney said. "I wanted a different outcome for that. I certainly thought we worked hard and did everything we could to claw back and get a point, at least. If we had any luck, we might have had two."

With the loss, Edmonton (29-37-8) fell to 1-0-1 on a four-game trip that continues Friday night against the Florida Panthers.
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