The name may have changed, but the results stayed the same.
Tampa Bay knocked off the new-look Winnipeg Jets 1-0 on Saturday for the Lightning's 12th consecutive victory against the franchise formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers. Tampa Bay's last loss to Winnipeg/Atlanta in the series came at the start of the 2009-10 season. Since then, the Lightning have not lost, taking the first meeting between the teams since the franchise was relocated over the summer following 11 seasons in Atlanta.
"It's just one of those things, but I don't look at it like what we did the last two years, every night is different,'' said captain Vinny Lecavalier, who scored the game's only goal late in the second period. "So I can't really put my finger on it.''
Dwayne Roloson, making his first start since allowing seven goals against Florida in the home opener on Oct. 17, stopped all 28 shots — including 11 in the third period — to record his 29th career shutout while picking up his second victory of the season.
Including Mathieu Garon's shutout against Buffalo in Tampa Bay's last game on home ice, the Lightning have not allowed a goal at home since the 7:55 mark of the third period against the New York Islanders on Oct. 20.
The dominance of the Thrashers/Jets aside, it was a bounce-back game for Roloson, who looked shaky in his past three starts, when he allowed a combined 17 goals including a disastrous start against the Panthers. Since then, Roloson spent extra time working with goaltending coach Frantz Jean while Garon started four consecutive games.
After not seeing game action for nearly two weeks, Roloson was eager to see if what he had been working on would pay off. On Saturday, the 42-year-old was on his game.
"It's gratifying, but at the same time it was a lot of work to get here, and you have to make sure that you keep focusing on and doing the things you need to do to get better and to stay where we are at right now,'' Roloson said. "It's rewarding, but it's only one game. I try to forget about how many games we have played and we have a lot left. So you have to forget about it now, go back to work and be ready for the next game.''
It was a battle of goaltenders throughout most of the game, with Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec making highlight saves opposite of Roloson. Pavelec came up big, stopping a pair of 2-on-1 breaks, first on Steven Stamkos and later on Ryan Shannon. Pavelec also robbed Lecavalier with a diving stop off a rebound chance at 9:24 of the second period.
Roloson made his best save of the night when he stopped Evander Kane on a partial breakaway with a right pad save as Roloson was on his stomach.
"I don't even know if it hit my toe and off the post or what, but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter if I stopped it because it didn't go across the line,'' Roloson said.
But somebody finally blinked, and it was Pavelec who was slow to get back on his skates following a save on a Stamkos shot with Tampa Bay on the power play late in the second.
As the puck caromed across the front to Lecavalier in the right circle, the Lightning captain eyed Pavelec's somewhat slow recovery and fired a puck from a bad angle into the net with 39.2 seconds left in the period.
"I saw a little bit of an opening, and I guess I surprised him,'' Lecavalier said. "It was not a great goal, but sometimes you get the puck on the net and sometimes it goes in.''