Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

For now, at least, Mathieu Garon is Tampa Bay Lightning's No. 1 goalie

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon didn't want to hear it.

He didn't want to hear how much he has meant to the team's season-best five-game winning streak or about an improved goals-against average and save percentage. He certainly didn't want to hear how he is giving the team more of a chance to win.

"When you win, it seems like all the credit goes to the goalie, and when you lose it's the opposite," Garon said. "It all depends on how the team is playing."

Maybe so, but there is no getting around how the goaltending has stepped up lately. Garon leads the way, winning his past four starts with a 2.22 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Dwayne Roloson also played well in his last start, a 33-save win over the Coyotes on Jan. 21.

But Garon got the call out of the All-Star break Tuesday against the Capitals, and tonight against the Jets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum he will make his fifth start in six games. For now, at least, Garon, 34, is No. 1.

"I know Roli is chomping at the bit and wants more, and I understand that," coach Guy Boucher said. "But right now Garon has given us solid consistency. We're kind of riding that."

As in the 4-3 overtime win over Washington. Garon made 26 saves, including bang-bang stops of Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich to spark a rush that led to Steven Stamkos' winning goal.

"It's your job to make key saves at the right time," Garon said.

As for assisting on a winning goal, he said, "Well, you don't really think about it."

Think about this: During Tampa Bay's streak, Garon and Roloson have combined for a 2.38 GAA and .918 save percentage. Compare that to their combined 3.32 GAA for the season, the worst in the league entering Wednesday, and .890 save percentage, second-worst.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, though, and the team is playing much better in the defensive zone. Defensemen Pavel Kubina and Eric Brewer are a combined plus-14 during the streak.

Brewer, though, said it is time to credit the goalies, who for most of the season have taken the brunt of media and fan criticism: "It's been easy pickins' to take pot shots at our goalies, but … they haven't had a lot of help."

"Early in the year we had a lot of breakdowns," defenseman Bruno Gervais said. "It's tough when you get 25 shots but nine of them are Grade A chances. We're giving less opportunities, but they're stepping up big time when it happens. They're keeping us in every game and giving us a chance to believe."

For Garon, most important is that a team fighting for its playoff life builds on its success. "We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," he said.

The goalies, too.

"Very often when asked about their games, goalies give credit to everybody in front of them," Boucher said. "Let's give them credit. They've played well."

And that should be heard.

Comments
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning journal: Jon Cooper thrilled with stellar start

Lightning journal: Jon Cooper thrilled with stellar start

TAMPA — If you told coach Jon Cooper his team would open the season with wins in 15 of the first 19 games, well, "I’m not sure I can sit here and say I would have predicted that," he said Saturday morning.But the Lightning did just that to lead the N...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Islanders

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Islanders

This is what happens when you have the best record in the league: You get the best from the other team. The Islanders came out strong and the Lightning couldn’t match it, falling behind 4-0 early in the third. For the most part, the Lightning has bee...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

TAMPA — It’s still way early, but if the Lightning’s record start continues, there will be a lot of hardware up for grabs. And we’re not just talking about the Stanley Cup. Nikita Kucherov has league MVP written all over him. Andrei Vasilevskiy coul...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Red-hot Lightning leading NHL in more than wins

Nikita Kucherov, top left, celebrates with teammate Steven Stamkos (91) after scoring against Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer. [AP photo]The Lightning (15-2-2) enters tonight’s game against the visiting Islanders (10-6-2) leading the leagu...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Brayden Point becomes ‘the heartbeat’ of the Lightning

Brayden Point becomes ‘the heartbeat’ of the Lightning

TAMPA — A local TV crew set up shop in front of Brayden Point’s locker stall the other day, waiting for the Lightning forward to be ready.Then, captain Steven Stamkos walked into the room for his scrum. It didn’t take long for the TV crew to change c...
Published: 11/17/17
Lightning pummels Stars for fifth straight win

Lightning pummels Stars for fifth straight win

TAMPA — The Lightning welcomed Ben Bishop back with a classy, fitting video tribute in Thursday’s first period. The sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena gave Bishop, the greatest goalie in franchise history, a standing ovation. It was an emotional...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Lightning journal: Specials teams in the spotlight vs. Stars

Lightning journal: Specials teams in the spotlight vs. Stars

TAMPA — C Braydon Point’s shorthanded goal tipped the game in the Lightning’s favor and the three penalties it killed during the second period kept it that way in Thursday’s 6-1 victory against the Stars.Dallas entered the game with an NHL-best 30.2 ...
Published: 11/16/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Stars game

There was a classy, fitting video tribute to former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in the first period. Think of all the moments in his five seasons in Tampa Bay. It had to be emotional for Bishop, who calls Tampa his second home. He touched his heart a...
Published: 11/16/17
Lightning vs. Stars vs. Bishop vs. No. 1 PP in NHL

Lightning vs. Stars vs. Bishop vs. No. 1 PP in NHL

Stars’ G Ben Bishop returns to Amalie Arena tonight for the first time since his last home game as a Lightning, which came before last season’s trade deadline.The teacher vs. the pupil (Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy) is one story line.He...
Published: 11/16/17