WASHINGTON — Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson said he was not nervous going into Tuesday's game with the Capitals.
That's quite a feat when you think about it. Roloson's first game for Tampa Bay since being acquired from the Islanders was for first place in the Southeast Division against a team that has dominated the Lightning for three-plus seasons.
"But my old college coach told me, if you're nervous, you're not prepared," he said. "I was prepared. I just wanted to go out and relax and try to play my game."
Did he ever. Roloson made 34 saves in a 1-0 overtime victory at the Verizon Center that ended with Marty St. Louis' goal 2:54 into the extra period. And Tampa Bay (24-11-5 and on a 9-1-1 run) snatched first place from the Capitals, who have not lost in regulation in seven games and had outscored Tampa Bay 12-3 in two previous wins this season.
"This was a great test," center Steven Stamkos said, "a midway (point of the season) exam for us to see where we are against one of the best teams in the league. We passed that with flying colors."
It was a test for Roloson, too, in what he called "a playoff atmosphere" and in a playofflike duel with Semyon Varlamov, who made 37 saves. Tampa Bay had a 38-34 shot advantage.
Roloson, in his 25th career shutout and first of the season, was at his best in the second period, in which he made 21 saves. Without a stick, the goalie slid left to the right to stop John Carlson's snap shot from near the crease 3:51 in.
"We made that trade because we thought he would improve our team, and he did everything he could to make that happen," coach Guy Boucher said. "I'm happy for him because (if) you start well … it takes away a lot of pressure. It's a great relief for him."
But Roloson said, "I take no personal satisfaction. As long as we win, that's all that matters. I could care less about anything else, just winning, that's it."
The Lightning won on St. Louis' 17th goal from the slot off a rebound of a shot from Vinny Lecavalier.
Tampa Bay played physically, too, clearing bodies in front of the net. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund had five hits, including a devastating shoulder-to-chest blow on Eric Fehr.
Players pounced on rebounds, blocked 17 shots and made just five turnovers. Boucher called it "a 0-0 mentality."
"They're a pretty good team," Washington's Alex Ovechkin said.
And it was anchored by the first Lightning goalie to earn a shutout in his first game and who made it easy for Boucher to start him tonight against the Penguins.
"I'll decide right now," Boucher said 15 minutes after Roloson beat the Capitals. "He's in net."
First Period—None. Penalties—Lecavalier, TB (interference), 14:10; Poti, Was (delay of game), 18:15.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (hooking), 2:33; Downie, TB, major (fighting), 9:35; Hendricks, Was, major (fighting), 9:35; Thompson, TB (delay of game), 11:38; Semin, Was (tripping), 16:00.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Green, Was (hooking), 7:06. OT —1, TB, St. Louis 17 (Lecavalier, Kubina), 2:54. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—TB 12-13-8-5—38. Wash. 5-21-8-0—34. Power-play opportunities—TB 0 of 3; Wash. 0 of 3. Goalies—TB, Roloson 7-13-1 (34 shots-34 saves). Wash., Varlamov 7-4-2 (38-37).