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Roloson puts perfect elimination mark on the line

by Adam Kimelman
After beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 to extend his team's season, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson was asked if he knew his record in elimination games.

He quickly answered in the negative and said he didn't want to know.

Well, no one show this to Roloson, but he's never lost when his team has faced a win-or-go-home situation.

That includes the last two games of this first-round series, when he's kept the Lightning alive with strong efforts in Games 5 and 6 to force Wednesday's Game 7 (8 p.m. ET, NHL Network-U.S., VERSUS (joined in progress), TSN).

At age 41, Roloson continues to amaze, stopping 27 of 29 shots in Tampa's 8-2 win in Game 5, and coming back two days later to save 31 of 33 shots in a 4-2 win in Game 6.

His biggest moment of the series may have come in Game 6, after the Pens' Jordan Staal scored to tie the game 2-2 at 3:48 of the third period. Seconds later the Penguins' Maxime Talbot had a breakaway, but Roloson stopped his backhand attempt, and then denied him again on the rebound. Pascal Dupuis then swooped in for another rebound opportunity, but Roloson made another great save.

Thirty seconds after the save on Dupuis, Steve Downie scored the game-winning goal that forced Game 7.

"The three big saves … it's a momentum turner, completely," said Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer. "He's just fantastic, as he has been all series. He saved us."

Brewer isn't the first person to say that about Roloson. During the Minnesota Wild's run to the Western Conference Finals in 2003, Roloson saved the team's season with three straight victories in the second round against the Vancouver Canucks.

Roloson relieved Manny Fernandez with the Wild down 3-1 in the series and allowed just five goals over the final three games. He stopped 25 of 27 shots in Game 5, 30 of 31 in Game 6 and 24 of 26 in Game 7 as Minnesota advanced to the conference finals for the first -- and only -- time in team history.

In five career games when his team is facing elimination, Roloson is 5-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.

Roloson also has a reputation as a playoff killer when his team has the chance to send the opposition home. With the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 playoffs, he went 3-1 with a 1.34 GAA and .957 save percentage in games where he could help end the opposition's season.

In the first round, Roloson stopped 33 of 36 shots in Game 6 to lead the eighth-seeded Oilers to an upset of the Red Wings, that season's Presidents' Trophy winner.

In Game 6 of the second round, he stopped all 24 shots he faced to eliminate the Sharks. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, he stopped 32 of 33 shots to knock out the Ducks, one game after allowing five goals on 45 shots in a 6-3 loss.

This is Roloson's first playoff series since the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, where he was injured in Game 1, but he hasn't seemed to lose any of his postseason survival instincts.

"We see it every day in practice," Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos said of Roloson after Game 6 against the Penguins. "He just never quits. He's defying the odds; doing it at his age is unbelievable. He was our best player."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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