Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning gets benchmark goaltending from Dan Ellis

Dan Ellis, making one of his 24 saves against the Penguins, “made a lot of hard shots look easy,” Guy Boucher said.

Associated Press

Dan Ellis, making one of his 24 saves against the Penguins, “made a lot of hard shots look easy,” Guy Boucher said.

TAMPA — Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis said his first priority Wednesday, when he went off the bench in relief of struggling Mike Smith, was to "kill the momentum."

"Try to contain every puck. You don't want to give up rebounds. You don't want to give up a soft one right away. You want to keep that puck out for as long as possible to give your team a chance to get their legs underneath them."

Ellis did just that, stopping all 24 shots he faced while Tampa Bay turned a 3-1 first-period deficit into a 5-3 victory over the Penguins at the St. Pete Times Forum.

But as important as the win — which entering Thursday had the Lightning (6-2-1) tied with the Canadiens atop the Eastern Conference — was that for the first time this season, a Tampa Bay goalie, in a what-you're-made-of situation, made a definitive statement in response to those who say the team's goaltending is its biggest question mark.

"Dan Ellis played great," coach Guy Boucher said. "He made a lot of hard shots look easy."

Smith and Ellis have had a tough go. Entering Thursday, their combined 3.30 goals-against average was 25th in the 30-team league.

Though Smith is 4-0-0, his 3.59 goals-against average was tied for 35th of 37 goalies listed by the NHL. His .868 save percentage was 35th. Ellis' 2.95 goals-against average was 25th. His .897 save percentage was 33rd.

In other words, the Lightning's 32 goals, which entering Thursday tied the Blackhawks for the league lead, has covered a lot of defensive sins.

So when Ellis came in cold and held up against one of the league's most explosive teams, it established credibility in the locker room — "To have Elly come in and play solid and give us a chance to mount that comeback was huge," right wing Adam Hall said — and provided himself some relief.

Ellis said that his ups and downs, and that Smith is undefeated, were "a little bit of a sting to your confidence."

"But that's part of being a professional athlete. You have to put that behind you. Maybe I was starting to dwell on that, but (Wednesday) I decided to go out there and play an aggressive game, play a solid game and let it fall where it does."

Ellis' game is a work in progress. He said goaltenders coach Frantz Jean has changed "a lot of things," including playing closer to the net so Ellis is in better position to stop rebound shots. Jean also wants Ellis to be comfortable staying on his knees when appropriate, rather than always standing up after a save.

"A lot of times when pucks come through traffic, they generally go in at the bottom of the net," Ellis said. "So, if you take that extra second and maybe be a little patient on your knees and flair your legs out, you'll get hit a lot more with pucks; take away that bottom part of the net and force them to beat you high."

But Ellis was quick to dole out credit for Wednesday's win.

"We picked up big-time defensively," he said. "That was probably the simplest game I had to play with this organization just based on positioning, sticks on pucks and keeping shots to the perimeter."

That's not quite what Smith got during his 12:15 of action, in which he allowed three goals on seven shots but faced two two-on-one breakaways, both of which resulted in goals.

"We just have to play better in front of Smitty," Hall said. "We can't put him in situations like that. We have to do a better job playing as a unit in front of him."

Even so, Smith must be better.

"It's his first outing where it really didn't go his way," Boucher said. "He'll be okay. It happens. I have all the confidence in the world in Smitty. I talked to him, and it's all about the next game."

And the next chance for a Lightning goalie to make a statement.

WAIVER WIRE: The Lightning put Mike Vernace on waivers. The defenseman has zero points and is minus-2 with an average 9:06 of ice time in seven games.

Tampa Bay Lightning gets benchmark goaltending from Dan Ellis 10/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 29, 2010 8:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

    Chris Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his past five starts. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  2. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Vikings: A by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 34-17 loss


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) as he passes during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times