It must have been turn-back-the-clock night Thursday because both veteran goaltenders looked a lot like the guys who led their respective teams to the Stanley Cup Final.
At one end was former Lightning Stanley Cup winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin turning aside several Tampa Bay chances for Edmonton, while Dwayne Roloson, who led Edmonton to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, played his best game in months for Tampa Bay.
And it only seemed fitting that the pair of goaltenders, with a combined age of 81, continued that pace through 65 minutes and six rounds of a shootout before Roloson came out on top in Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 17,893 at The Forum.
Tom Pyatt had the first two-goal game of his career while Roloson finished with 34 saves and stopped four of the six shooters in the shootout. Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis each scored in the shootout while Teddy Purcell clinched the victory in the sixth round.
The victory was the second in the past eight games for Tampa Bay, which jumped Toronto into 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings, but remain eight points out of a playoff spot with nine games remaining.
Roloson refused to claim any sense of personal satisfaction in playing perhaps his best game in four months. He allowed fewer than three goals in a start for the first time since Nov. 17 when he stopped 33 shots in a 5-1 victory against Pittsburgh. And it didn't matter that it came against a team he nearly helped lead to a Stanley Cup championship seven years ago.
"There is no personal anything, it's just a team win, we went out and won a hockey game and now it's over and done with,'' Roloson said.
Yet in a season that has been disappointing for the 42-year-old goaltender, who nearly led Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup Final last season, his teammates were happy to speak on his behalf.
"When someone works as hard as he does in practice, and he'll be the first one to tell you that he's not having the year he wants, but the past couple of games he's done well, he's given us a chance and it was nice to get the win for him tonight,'' said Stamkos, who finished with six of Tampa Bay's 21 shots on goal.
Pyatt provided the Lightning with the early lead by redirecting in a Victor Hedman backhand pass on the power play 3:24 into the second period. Linus Omark answered that with a tip-in of a Ryan Whitney shot at 9:57 to tie the score.
At the end of the second, Tampa Bay regained the lead. Three Lightning players – Pyatt, Tim Wallace and Mike Commodore – converged on a loose puck in the crease and seemed to simultaneously reach the puck at the same time. Pyatt was credited with the goal with 1:42 left in the period.
"I wasn't sure who even got there first until the replay and I saw it,'' Pyatt said. "I was just happy that it went in.''
But Tampa Bay didn't push to increase the lead, getting just one shot on goal in the third. Edmonton was able to tie the game when defenseman Ladislav Smid one-timed a cross-ice feed from 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 3:47 left in the third. And only some key stops from Roloson, including a strong toe save on an Omark breakaway chance, kept Tampa Bay in the game.
"He was solid, he looked in control and I really like his game,'' Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said of Roloson. "The past two weeks he's worked really hard at calming his game, and he has calmed his game. He's been working hard at it and he deserves it.''