COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two months ago, G Louis Domingue got dropped by the league’s worst team.
Domingue, 25, put on waivers by the Coyotes, had to rent his own ice to practice for a few weeks, with former Arizona teammate Shane Doan joining him for lonely workouts. "It was tough," Domingue said.
That’s what made Sunday so special and gratifying, for Domingue, who was called up by the Lightning from AHL Syracuse to back up Andrei Vasilevskiy with Peter Budaj considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
"They’ve given me a chance," Domingue said. "It’s just a matter of me grabbing it."
Domingue, acquired in a mid-November trade, earned the promotion for his stellar work in Syracuse, sparking the Crunch’s turnaround (and 10-game winning streak) with his steady play (9-4, 2.39 goals-against average). He found his game, and his confidence, after losing six straight to start the season in Arizona.
"I thought it was just a matter of getting that first win and things were going to get rolling for me,’" he said.
Though Domingue struggled with Arizona (4.33 GAA, .856 save percentage), he was surprised to land on waivers. "I was kind of naive thinking that nothing was happening," he said.
Domingue worked out with Doan but also got to spend more time with his almost 2-year-old daughter, Mila.
"For two weeks I was waiting for that call for a trade," he said. "And it never came."
It did on Nov. 14, when the Lightning swapped Syracuse G Michael Leighton (along with F Tye McGinn) for Domingue. Tampa Bay wanted to help Syracuse but also believed Domingue was a better NHL option as a No. 3.
The Lightning came to that belief firsthand. Domingue had a 2.03 GAA in three starts versus Tampa Bay. That included stopping 36 of 39 shots in a 5-3 win in Tampa last season. Goalie coach Frantz Jean, who coached Domingue in juniors, knew the goalie still had it.
"How many times has a change of scenery had a positive effect on somebody?" coach Jon Cooper said. "Sometimes you’ve got to find your game. He’s most definitely deserved his chance to get back up here."
Domingue digs his new club.
"They have winning in their blood, and it rubs off on everybody," he said. "I’m pretty grateful to be here right now."
Nuts and bolts
Wing Ryan Callahan (upper body) took another significant step toward his return in getting cleared for contact Sunday before the game against the Blue Jackets. Coach Jon Cooper said Callahan could return on this five-game trip. "We’re definitely close," Callahan said. … G Andrei Vasilevskiy started. D Anton Stralman returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury.