GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some things never change when it comes to Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Even after his 33 saves in a 4-3 victory over the Coyotes on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena, even after his first win since Nov. 17, Roloson was low-key as ever.
"It's always nice to win games," he said.
Nice? How about imperative?
Roloson needed to re-establish himself after a 0-6-1 stretch in 11 games. So to stand up to a Coyotes team that had a 36-21 shot advantage over a Tampa Bay squad playing its second of back-to-back road games was a huge step forward.
"On a back-to-back, you need your goalie to play great because it's an unfair fight," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.
"Roli," center Steven Stamkos said, "was the reason we got those two points."
It was the third straight win for the Lightning (20-23-4), which got goals from Stamkos, Teddy Purcell, Marty St. Louis and Steve Downie and won consecutive road games for the first time this season.
Facing his former teammates for the first time, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was shaky, especially on Downie's goal with 3:21 left in the second as the unscreened shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in off his arm for a 4-1 lead.
The goal turned out to be the winner as Keith Yandle scored 3:35 into the third period and Ray Whitney scored on the power play with 3:59 left to cut Phoenix's deficit to one.
Stamkos scored his league-best 32nd goal. But his tripping penalty turned into Whitney's goal, and his cross-checking penalty gave the Coyotes, who pulled Smith, a six-on-four advantage for the final 26.1 seconds.
"A big win," Stamkos said. "We needed everyone on board."
That was because fatigue was a factor for a team playing on short rest after Friday's win in Dallas and without wing Ryan Malone, who left in the first period with an upper-body injury.
"You can't focus on anything other than the puck," Roloson said. "You can't focus on if the guys are tired or if they're not. That's out of your control. Just go out and give your guys a chance."
He did in the second period with a glove save on Whitney's close-in backhand to preserve a 3-1 lead and in the final 5:04 after being plowed by Martin Hanzal, who had been checked from behind by Vinny Lecavalier.
Roloson's head snapped back, and he said he felt a stinger from his C-1 vertebrae to his C-5. He was motionless on the ice as head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan gave aid.
"Part of the game," Roloson said.
Low-key as ever.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 32 (St. Louis, Moore), 12:02. 2, Tampa Bay, Purcell 12 (Downie, Kubina), 15:39. Penalties—None.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 11 (T.Smith, Labrie), 6:15. 4, Phoenix, Korpikoski 11 (Gordon), 8:29 (sh). 5, Tampa Bay, Downie 8 (Lecavalier), 16:39. Penalties—Hanzal, Pho (interference), 7:33; Clark, TB (interference), 9:08; Clark, TB (interference), 18:20.
Third Period—6, Phoenix, Yandle 6 (Korpikoski, Whitney), 3:35. 7, Phoenix, Whitney 15 (Ekman-Larsson, Doan), 16:01 (pp). Penalties—Whitney, Pho (high-sticking), 1:20; Stamkos, TB (tripping), 15:18; Stamkos, TB (cross-checking), 19:33. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 7-10-4—21. Phoenix 15-12-9—36. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Phoenix 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 7-10-2 (36 shots-33 saves). Phoenix, M.Smith 17-13-7 (21-17). A—12,714 (17,135).