Tampa Bay Lightning signs free agent goalie Mathieu Garon, lets go Mike Smith

Mathieu Garon knows his role as backup goaltender to the Lightning's Dwayne Roloson. But that doesn't mean he won't push for playing time.

Whether he gets it, the push, he said, will make both goalies and the team better.

"The better you play, the more you're going to push the No. 1 guy, and he's going to be better," Garon said. "It's great for the team when you play and push the other guy."

Garon, 33, signed a two-year, $2.6 million free agent contract Friday that will pay $1.3 million each season and reunite him with Roloson, with whom he played with the Oilers from 2007-09.

Mike Smith, who backed up Roloson last season, signed a two-year, $4 million deal to be the No. 1 for the Coyotes.

"I think it's a great fit for me because it's a great team," Garon said of the Lightning. "It's a team that wants to win."

Garon, 6 feet 1, 206 pounds, was 10-14-6 last season in 36 games for the Blue Jackets with a 2.72 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.

The butterfly goalie known for his quick feet is one of the league's best in shootouts, with a 19-10 career record — including 10-0 in 2007-08 with Edmonton — and a .747 save percentage.

Garon said he has recovered 75 to 80 percent of his strength after April surgery to fix a torn tendon in his right elbow with which he played the entire season.

"Three weeks from now," he said, "I'll be all set."

Tampa Bay Lightning signs free agent goalie Mathieu Garon, lets go Mike Smith 07/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 2, 2011 12:08am]

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