Lightning Goalie Mike Smith May Finally Have His Groove Back

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIOctober 24, 2009

The final result won't be to his liking, but Tampa Bay goaltender Mike Smith may enjoy it anyway.

Tampa Bay's top netminder has finally had the cobwebs or rust or whatever it has been that has kept him from performing at his peak performance for the Lightning and has put to back consecutive fantastic outings between the pipes for the Lightning.

After making 32 saves in Tampa Bay's 5-2 destruction of the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, Smith made 30 saves, plus stopped five shots in the shootout against the Sabres tonight before finally succumbing to Tyler Myers litany of moves in the 6th round.

Smith lost his first four starts for Tampa Bay (albeit two by shootout) and had bottomed out on the road against Ottawa allowing seven goals in a horrible performance.

Backup Arturo Nittymaki started the next couple of games while Smith focused on regaining, well...his focus.

A weird break in the schedule allowed a four day break between games allowed Smith to get in some much needed practice time and he put it to good use.

"He had a really good week of practice," Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet told the Associated Press , "When he practices well he's right on."

"I worked really hard in practice this week and things turned out great for us," Smith added, "I got back to fundamentals this week. I think it helped, so hopefully it can carryover."

It most certainly has for the young goalie.

While the shootout loss kept Tampa Bay at .500 (3-3-3) a healthy, focused Smith will go a long way in getting the Lightning back into the playoffs.

Some other quick hits from tonight's 3-2 SO loss to the Sabres:

Vincent Lecavalier broke his 15 game scoring slump, finally breaking through in the waning seconds of the first period on a rebound to put the Bolts up 1-0.

Steven Stamkos continues to put the biscuit in the basket for Tampa Bay, getting his sixth goal this season and he now has a three game scoring streak and a five game point streak.

Buffalo's Drew Stafford tied the game 16.1 seconds left in regulation.

Tampa Bay rookie James Wright now has a two game point streak, getting an assist on Lecavalier's goal.

The Lightning continue to abysmal in shoot outs under head coach Rick Tocchet, falling to 2-11. Tampa Bay has yet to score a goal in a shoot out this season.

The 3-3-3 start matches the team's start in 2008 after nine games.