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Roloson has Lightning halfway to conference finals

by John Kreiser /
The oldest goaltender in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs has been the best one so far.

Tampa Bay acquired Dwayne Roloson, 41, from the New York Islanders on Jan. 1 in the hope he could help it get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Not only did Roloson get the Lightning into the playoffs, but he has the Bolts two wins away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Lightning have been out-shot in all nine of their playoff games this spring. But they've won six of them -- including five in a row -- thanks to Roloson, who has allowed just eight goals as the Bolts rallied for three consecutive wins to stun Pittsburgh in seven games and win their first two against Washington.

He was at his best Sunday night, stopping 35 shots and giving his team a chance to win in overtime despite being out-shot 37-23.

Three up — Three players who've been hot:

Antti Niemi – San Jose brought in Niemi in hopes he could help them get over the playoff hump -- and after a shaky start, he's delivering. Niemi has won his last three starts and stopped 57 of 59 shots as the Sharks earned back-to-back 2-1 wins against Detroit to start their Western Conference Semifinal series.

David Krejci – Krejci's broken wrist in last year's second-round series against Philadelphia was a big reason the Bruins couldn't hold a 3-0 series lead. But he and his line tore up the Flyers in Game 1 of this year's Eastern Semis – Krejci had 2 goals and 2 assists in Game 1, a 7-3 win that took the home-ice advantage from the Flyers.

Pekka Rinne – Nashville got a split in Vancouver thanks to Rinne, who made the save of the playoffs in overtime of Game 2, giving his team a chance to win. He allowed just two goals in nearly eight periods against the highest-scoring team during the regular season.

Three down — Three players who are struggling:

Mikael Samuelsson – It hasn't been a good postseason for a lot of Vancouver forwards – the Canucks' offense has struggled throughout the postseason. Despite spending some time on a line with the Sedin twins, Samuelsson has gone six games without a point and is minus-6 during that span.

Patric Hornqvist – Nashville got a split in Vancouver despite scoring only twice. The Preds need more offense from players like Hornqvist, who has gone four games without a point.

Michael Ryder – Ryder was the hero of Boston's Game 4 win against Montreal, scoring twice, including the OT winner, and adding an assist. But he's failed to put up a point in any of the Bruins; other six playoff games, including the last four.
Injuries, news and notes — Pittsburgh's season ended Wednesday with a loss to Tampa Bay, but Sidney Crosby wouldn't have been ready even if the Penguins had advanced. Crosby said last week he'd had a setback as he works to return from a concussion that ended his season in early January.

Out — Tampa Bay was without forward Simon Gagne (head) and defenseman Pavel Kubina for Sunday's game against Washington. Both are listed as day-to-day. … Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo sat out Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury but made the trip to Nashville for games Tuesday and Thursday. … Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Returning — Washington forward Mike Knuble returned from a hand injury on Sunday after missing three games. … Detroit forwards Henrik Zetterberg (knee) and Johan Franzen (ankle) both returned for Game 1 of the Wings' series against San Jose. Zetterberg sat out all of the first round, while Franzen missed Game 4 of the sweep of Phoenix.

Still out — Washington defensemen Tom Poti (groin) and Dennis Wideman (leg) are both skating but not yet ready to return. … Nashville forward Cal O'Reilly isn't ready to return from the broken leg that has kept him out since early January.

Non-playoff teams – Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek is likely to miss the rest of the World Championships after being driven into the glass in the Czech Republic's game against Latvia on Saturday. Martinek was hospitalized with a severe concussion. … Buffalo's Jason Pominville reportedly had a tendon in his leg severed in Game 5 against Philadelphia and will need surgery. … Rangers forward Brandon Prust (shoulder) and defenseman Dan Girardi (hernia) had surgery last week; the team says both players will be ready for training camp. … Toronto goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said last week he had surgery to repair a hernia and groin injuries.

The week ahead
— The conference semifinals shift sites this week, with the possibility that some series could be finished by the weekend.

Games to watch:

Vancouver at Nashville (May 3; Versus, CBC) – The Predators return to Bridgestone Arena for the first second-round home game in franchise history. Saturday's 2-1 win in double overtime gave the Predators a split in Vancouver.

Washington at Tampa Bay (May 3; Versus, TSN, RDS) – The Lightning come home for the first time since their Game 6 win against Pittsburgh with a chance to take a 3-0 stranglehold on their series after back-to-back wins in Washington.

Philadelphia at Boston (May 4; Versus, CBC) – The Bruins host the Flyers in Game 3, their first playoff meeting in Boston since Game 7 of last year's second-round series in which Philadelphia completed its historic comeback.

San Jose at Detroit (May 4; Versus, TSN, RDS) – The Wings come home needing a win in Game 3 after dropping the first two games at the Shark Tank, both by 2-1 scores.

Washington at Tampa Bay (May 4; NHL Network-US; TSN; RDS) – Conditioning figures to be a factor as the Caps and Lightning play the only back-to-back set of games in the second round.
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