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Roloson still perfect when facing elimination

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 games when his team is facing an elimination game.

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.

His 16-save effort in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins Wednesday ran his record to 7-0 in such games, with a 1.82 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. This postseason alone, he's 4-0 in such games.

He'll get a chance to improve that mark in Game 7 against the Bruins on Friday (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).

At age 41, Roloson continues to amaze.

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

Anytime his team has its back against the wall, Roloson has been his team's best player. Here's a look back at all Roloson's elimination-game success:

Game 5, Western Conference Semifinals, May 5, 2003 -- Minnesota Wild 7, Vancouver Canucks 2
Roloson replaces Manny Fernandez with the Wild down 3-1 in the series. Roloson stopped 27 of 29 shots. His life is made easier as the Wild blitz the Canucks for five second-period goals.

Game 6, Western Conference Semifinals, May 7, 2003 -- Minnesota Wild 5, Vancouver Canucks 1
Back home in Minnesota, Roloson slammed the door, allowing just one goal on 31 shots as the Wild's offense once again made his night a bit easier.

Game 7, Western Conference Semifinals, May 9, 2003 -- Minnesota Wild 4, Vancouver Canucks 2
The Wild trailed 2-1 after two periods, but again Roloson rose to the occasion, stopping all seven shots he faced in the third period while the Wild scored three times in the final 20 minutes to clinch the series. He made 24 saves in the game as the Wild advanced to the first -- and only -- conference final in team history.

Game 5, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, April 23, 2011 -- Tampa Bay Lightning 8, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

The Pens won Game 4 in double overtime, but facing elimination on the road, Roloson came up big. He stopped all 13 Pittsburgh shots in the first period, denied them on seven power plays in the game and made 27 saves to support Tampa Bay's offensive onslaught.

Game 6, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, April 25, 2011 -- Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

Maybe Roloson's finest moment of the postseason to date came late in the third period. Seconds after the Penguins' Jordan Staal scored to tie the game, Pittsburgh's 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. Roloson finished with 27 saves on 29 shots.

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

Game 7, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, April 27, 2011 -- Tampa Bay Lightning 1, Pittsburgh Penguins 0
In a hostile Consol Energy Center, Roloson saving everything the Penguins threw at him, stopping 36 pucks in all and making Sean Bergenheim's second-period goal stand up.

"He was our MVP," Stamkos said. "He was clutch when we needed him. The numbers he put up were ridiculous. Our penalty kill is ultimately what won us this series, and he was our best penalty killer. Words can't express how much he meant to us in this series."

"We can talk every day, but I need to get some new words," coach Guy Boucher said. "He's been terrific for us leadership-wise and was one of the reasons why our second half was very good defensively. He's got a lot of insight from what he's seen over the years in moments like this. Coming up with a shutout, the last game, you can't ask for better."

Game 6, Eastern Conference Finals, May 25, 2011 -- Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Boston Bruins 4
Roloson was pulled from Game 4 and benched for Game 5, but with the Lightning's season on the line, Boucher didn't hesitate to go back to his veteran.

"(Roloson) was the guy that took us here, and that's how I felt before last game," Boucher said the morning of the game.

Roloson proved his coach right, stopping just enough shots to allow his team to come back from down 2-1 in the first period.

The four goals he allowed were the most he ever had given up in an elimination game, but he said he wasn't losing any sleep over it.

"They got a bunch, but it doesn't matter," he said. "I don't care if we win 21-20."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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