RALEIGH, NC - Having been relegated to back up status following the trade for Dwayne Roloson, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith has become the forgotten man on the Lightning bench. Making just his first start since March 12th with Roloson resting on the second day of a back to back, Smith would not miss the opportunity to showcase why he was once a sought after trade target of the Bolts. Smith was sensational Saturday night, stymieing the Carolina Hurricanes and making huge saves en route to a 4-2 Lightning victory, just its third win in March.
Smith would finish with 33 saves, but it was the Lightning offense that finally woke up giving Smith some much missed support. Lightning forward Simon Gagne, who has gotten hot at just the right time, scored two goals, giving him four in the past two games, while Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore also tallied a goal each. Captain Vincent Lecavalier had two assists.
In the first period it appeared that the Hurricanes would carry on right where they left off Friday night, scoring seven minutes in as Eric Staal snapped home his 31st goal on the Powerplay, but the Lightning would not relent, scoring twice in the period before Carolina's Erik Cole tied the game with less than a minute left before intermission. The next 40 minutes would be all Lightning as the Bolts were finally able to put together a complete game, holding off the Hurricanes for a much needed victory.
The win was a four point swing for the Lightning as their magic number to clinch a postseason berth dropped from eight to four. With four more points in the standings Tampa Bay can secure their first playoff trip in four years.