By Jerry Brown | NHL Correspondent
GLENDALE -- Playing on the second night of back-to-back games, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher put struggling Dwayne Roloson between the pipes and asked the 42-year-old backup goalie to hold the fort until his tired team could find some legs.
Roloson was great early and just good enough at the end to earn his first win since Nov. 17 as Tampa Bay built a 4-1 lead, and then held on for a 4-3 win over the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night.
Lauri Korpikoski, Keith Yandle and Ray Whitney scored goals for Phoenix (21-20-8), which remains in 12th place in the Western Conference while slipping to 9-9-4 on home ice and 0-1-1 on a season-long, six-game homestand.
Steven Stamkos opened the scoring with his NHL-leading 32nd goal and Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie followed his lead as the Lightning peppered former teammate, Mike Smith, with four goals on their first 16 shots in their first meeting since he left for Phoenix as a free agent.
Saturday's game was the first pitting Roloson vs. Smith since the pair served as the goalie tandem in Tampa Bay last season. Roloson arrived in a January trade, took the starting job from the Smith and led the Lightning to within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Smith left for Phoenix as a free agent and has shined all season, while Roloson was 0-6-1 in his last seven starts for a team that has allowed a League-worst 163 goals. But Roloson was sharp early Saturday, stopping 15 shots in the first period and finished with 33 for just his seventh win in 24 games.
He was knocked down by a Martin Hanzal elbow with five minutes left – lying motionless on the ice for more than a minute – but stayed in the game to record the win.
It was a difficult night on the other end for Smith, who saw only 21 shots and gave up a soft goal to Downie late in the second period when the Coyotes had shaved the deficit to 3-1 and were pressuring the Tampa Bay net.
Smith remains good friends with several Lightning players, including several who burned him Saturday.
|Photo by Getty Images.
"It was kind of funny with Smitty that myself, Downs and Marty … are all very close to him and we all snuck one by him today," Stamkos said. "He's going to be a little disappointed, but for us it was more than (the game), it was great to see him and hopefully we get a chance to talk to him (before leaving)."
Phoenix outshot the Lightning 12-2 in the first 10 minutes, but didn't have many choice scoring chances among them. Tampa Bay, meanwhile made the most of its chances as two red-hot scorers cashed in.
Stamkos, who had a five-game point streak stopped Friday in Dallas, scored his 12th goal in the last 13 games when he lost Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and was all alone at the top of the crease to accept a St. Louis pass for an easy one.
Just 3:37 later, Smith stopped a Pavel Kubina shot from the point, but Purcell was sitting on the doorstep when the rebound trickled free. Purcell flipped the puck by the down-and-out Smith for his fifth in the last six games and 12th overall to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.
"It seemed like we were banging away and doing whatever we can to create scoring chances," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "And every five chances we create, we get nothing. Then they get one and they seem like easy goals … that puts a frustration level into your group."
The second period started like the first – with Phoenix shooting often, but Tampa Bay (20-23-4) scoring.
On the heels of three strong shifts by Phoenix, the Lightning broke out on the rush and St. Louis flew by defenseman Chris Summers and put a wrist shot over Smith's glove at 7:33 to give Tampa Bay a three-goal cushion.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Things looked even worse for Phoenix when Hanzal took an interference penalty, but the Coyotes turned it into a positive. Korpikoski took a Boyd Gordon pass down the ice, side-stepped St. Louis and beat Roloson to the top left corner at 8:29.
Given new life, Smith let it slip away late in the second period by allowing Tampa Bay a fourth goal (see KEY MOMENT below).
Trailing 4-1, the Coyotes kept coming, with 11 scoring chances in the third period and two goals.
Yandle made the score 4-2 at 3:35, one-timing a Korpikoski pass off the left-side boards that weaved through traffic and by Roloson. And when Stamkos took a silly tripping penalty in the Phoenix zone, Whitney put an Ekman-Larsson feed through a Hanzal screen at 16:01 to put the Coyotes within a goal.
Stamkos took another bad penalty with 26.1 seconds left, but Phoenix couldn't score 6-on-4 and the Lightning survived. Roloson finished the game with a sore back and no edge on his right skate after he collapsed to the ice after Hanzal's hit, but Boucher said he had to let his veteran finish.
"I'm looking at him and you could see in his face, 'Hey, I'm doing this,'" Boucher said. "He's a fighter and I'm not going to prevent him from fighting … that's for sure."
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
With Tampa Bay leading 3-1 but losing momentum after allowing a short-handed goal, Lightning forward Steve Downie steamed down the right wing and offered a shot that Coyotes goalie Mike Smith
saw clearly, tried to glove and dropped.
The puck tumbled into the goal and Tampa Bay was back in control with a 4-1 lead at 16:39 of the second period.
"It comes down to making saves and that fourth one is just a back-breaker," Smith said.
► Click here
to watch the KEY MOMENT
• Defenseman Derek Morris
suffered a lower-body injury on his third shift and left the game. He did not return. After the game, Head Coach Dave Tippett said his status was "day-to-day."
• Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson
played a career-high 30:06, including 4:45 on the power play.
• Center Martin Hanzal
won 17 of 28 faceoffs, delivered seven hits and took five shots on goal.
• Forward Lauri Korpikoski
scored his third short-handed goal of the season at 8:29 of the second period. Only Minnesota's Cal Clutterback (four) and New Jersey's Adam Henrique (four) have scored more.
• Center Boyd Gordon
won 12 of 16 faceoffs and assisted on Lauri Korpikoski
's short-handed goal.
• Center Kyle Chipchura
logged 14:53 in his 200th NHL game.
• The Coyotes played minus forward Daymond Langkow
(upper-body injury), and defensemen David Schlemko
(lower-body injury) and Adrian Aucoin
(lower-body injury). Schlemko and Aucoin are on the injured reserve list.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
and Daymond Langkow
• The Coyotes' next game is Tuesday vs. the Ottawa Senators at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen of Fox Sports Arizona Plus and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).