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 goalie Dan Ellis ready to seize opportunity

Dan Ellis, making a save vs. Carolina on Monday, had his best game of the season in that 5-1 win, coach Guy Boucher said.

Associated Press

Dan Ellis, making a save vs. Carolina on Monday, had his best game of the season in that 5-1 win, coach Guy Boucher said.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Just like that, Dan Ellis is the Lightning's No. 1 goaltender.

He did not want it to happen this way, he said — by default, with Mike Smith going down during Monday's morning skate with a left-knee sprain.

On the other hand, Ellis knows an opportunity when he sees it.

"It's really unfortunate what happened to Smitty," Ellis said. "He turned out some great games there, and we were really starting to ride him. But the opportunity, as much as you are saddened for your teammate, you have to make the most of it."

Ellis will have two to three weeks, the estimate of Smith's recovery time, and he likely won't have to look over his shoulder. Backup Cedrick Desjardins has literally two days of NHL experience, and coach Guy Boucher said Ellis will get the bulk of the work, beginning tonight against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

It is a perfect scenario for the inconsistent Ellis, who needs to make an impression while Boucher and general manager Steve Yzerman decide if changes are needed in net on a team that seems headed for the playoffs.

"It's a great opportunity," Yzerman said. "Every goalie wants to play and have multiple games to get into a groove, and he's going to get that chance."

Ellis, 30, signed in July to a two-year, $3 million deal, and Smith have been at or near the bottom of the league in combined goals-against average and save percentage.

Ellis's problem has been soft goals at bad times. He is 9-5-4, but his 3.11 goals-against average is mediocre and his .879 save percentage is last in the league.

Still, Ellis was strong Monday against the Hurricanes with 21 saves in a 5-1 victory. Boucher called it Ellis' best game of the season because he made critical first-shot saves.

"It's high," teammate Steven Stamkos said of the team's confidence in Ellis, "especially after (Monday). He stepped up and made some huge saves. We have a lot of confidence in him. He's a proven goalie in this league."

Ellis said he has benefited from work on "technical stuff" with goaltenders coach Frantz Jean. But he also learned last week while watching Smith's two-game winning streak.

"Smitty showed me you have to go out there and have fun," Ellis said. "You have to battle. You have to stop the puck any way possible. It doesn't matter if you're in a perfect butterfly if you don't make the save. You have to go get anything on it you can."

"He's got character," Boucher said but acknowledged "the urgency for a goaltender to get his game to a normal level."

That's something Ellis did not do Dec. 11 against the Canucks, when a bad goal tied the score 4-4 with 5:47 left in the third period.

Tampa Bay won in overtime, but Ellis said the goal haunted him.

"I didn't sleep well for at least a few nights," he said. "But you learn from those mistakes, and you use that as an opportunity to build your focus and realize you can't take one second off in this league or it's in the back of the net and it might cost you your job."

Now he has a chance to secure one.

MOVE: With wing Ryan Malone day to day with an upper-body injury sustained against Carolina, left wing Johan Harju was recalled from AHL Norfolk.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dan Ellis ready to seize opportunity 12/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 5:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)