COLUMBUS, Ohio — When the Lightning made a minor-league trade in mid November, it didn't make much of a ripple.
Tampa Bay swapped with Arizona veteran goaltenders who have played mostly in the minors, trading Michael Leighton for Louis Domingue in a package that also included AHL Syracuse forward Tye McGinn.
But moments like this are why Tampa Bay made that deal.
Domingue, 25, was called up Saturday for Sunday's game against the Blue Jackets. With veteran Peter Budaj going on injured reserve after suffering an apparent left leg injury in Friday's loss to the Flyers, Domingue will serve as Andrei Vasilevskiy's backup. General manager Steve Yzerman said he was not sure how long Budaj would be out.
The Lightning made the deal with Arizona partly to help the Crunch, which was struggling. But it was also because Tampa Bay believed Domingue was a better NHL option if it needed one.
Domingue's numbers were brutal at the beginning of the season with the Coyotes: 0-6 with a 4.33 goals-against average and .856 save percentage. But Arizona is the league's worst team and didn't play well in front of him. And the Lightning has history with Domingue. Goalie coach Frantz Jean coached him in juniors.
Domingue has delivered for the Crunch, going 9-4 with a 2.39 goals-against average since the trade. Crunch coach Benoit Groulx said Domingue was the main reason for Syracuse's turnaround and recent 10-game winning streak. Domingue has 84 games of NHL experience (27-41-7, 3.01 GAA), all with Arizona.
"I think the way the game is going, if you don't have that guy who is giving you a chance day in, day out, your team cannot play at its best," Groulx said. "You don't play with that same confidence, same freedom, don't play with the same audacity. (Domingue) has given us a chance to win every night."
Domingue won't have to play much. Budaj started just seven times in the Lightning's first 37 games. But with the schedule getting more condensed this month, Domingue should get some action, starting on this road trip, which has five days and ends a week from Sunday.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.
at Blue Jackets, 6 Sunday, Columbus, Ohio
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