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2011 NHL Playoffs: Mike Smith In Net, Lightning On Board Early

Possibly a surprise in tonight’s lineup, as Mike Smith is in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning to start Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. Smith has stopped every shot he’s seen in relief duty in Games 2 and 4 of the series, and part of the benefit of starting Smith may be that coach Guy Boucher can always turn to Dwayne Roloson if Smith struggles.

Fortunately the Lightning made Smith’s job just a little bit easier by scoring only 1:09 into the game. Brett Clark wiped out Andrew Ference at the far-side point, springing Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne on a 2-on-1 towards Boston goalie Tim Thomas. Stamkos passed to Gagne, who took a bit of an off-speed shot that beat Thomas and found the net.

The Lightning seem more willing to bang bodies in the early going. Along with Clark’s hit on Ference, Mattias Ohlund stood up Brad Marchand at the blue line on the shift before Gagne’s goal, and Stamkos knocked over Dennis Seidenberg a little bit later.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.