TAMPA — Despite coming on and stopping all 21 shots he face to help his team come back from an early 3-0 hole, Lightning goalie Mike Smith doesn’t think he’ll get the call to start Game 5 Monday night in Boston. Smith came on with 2:02 left in the first period after Dwayne Roloson allowed a shorthanded goal to Patrice Bergeron , the third against him in nine shots.
“No, I don’t think so,” Smith said when asked directly if he thinks he’ll start Game 5. “It’s one game. Rollie has got us this far and he’s played outstanding in the playoffs. I don’t doubt that he comes back and plays really well for us. I have no doubt in my mind that he rebounds from a game like this.”
Smith’s coach, Guy Boucher, was far less definitive while hinting that he’s leaning toward starting Roloson in Game 5 since he’s still the Lightning’s No. 1 goalie.
“We just finished this game,” Boucher said. “We’re happy we just beat a terrific team and we’re just happy that we were a lot harder to play against today. And Smitty was part of it, and Roloson is. It doesn’t change the status.”
That answer followed a much longer and complicated response to the same question moments earlier.
“We have a our No. 1 goaltender. He’s taken us to this place right now,” Boucher said. “And that’s the reason why we’re here. And we have our [backup]. Smitty has been terrific. He’s had a [save percentage] average of over .940 since Dec. 15. And the fact that Rollie came in certainly helped him with pressure and poise and all that. And whenever he was asked to play since Roloson has been here, he’s been terrific. I mean, he’s just been terrific.
This was the second time in three games in the series that Mike Smith came on with the Lightning down three goals. He started the third period in Game 2, with the Lightning down, 6-3. Tampa Bay scored twice in the third and nearly pulled off the comeback.
Saturday, he came in with 2:02 left in the first and was around as the Lightning did complete the comeback.
“So, whenever it’s time for him to help the team and try to change momentum around, I don’t hesitate. It was the same in Boston,” Boucher said. “We put him in. He didn’t get scored against in the third period. We were trying to come back. He played well again. So, I don’t remember the last bad game he’s played. So obviously, when there’s an opportunity to help the team try and turn things around, we’re not afraid to use him. He did a good job today.”
And, presumably, he’ll be available out of the Lightning bullpen on Monday night at TD Garden.