Out of mothballs, Budaj leads Bolts

by Gary Shelton on December 8, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Budaj makes a stop against Avs./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Budaj makes a stop against Avs./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Friday, 3 a.m.

He handles a stick pretty well. He guards the goal pretty fiercely. He moves in front of the net fairly smoothly.

Most of the time, though, he waits.

And waits.

And waits some more.

Such is the life of Peter Budaj, the Lightning goalie in reserve. Most of the time, he watches Andrei Vasilevskiy from a distance. Most of the time, he is

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Point moves the puck into position./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Point moves the puck into position./ANDREW J. KRAMER

the emergency, backup, insurance plan of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Then he plays. And sometimes, that works out fine, too.

Namestnikov scored his 12th goal./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Namestnikov scored his 12th goal./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Budaj helped the Lightning stop the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night, 5-2. Playing in his first game since Nov. 25, and only his fifth all season, Budaj stopped 28 of 30 shots.

“It’s a tough job because as much as you try and plan when the games are going to be, circumstances can change them a little bit," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You always have to stay ready, even though you know whether it’s four or five in a row you’re not going to play. It’s always been tough because the tough part for him is always been that first few minutes and then he settles in and he’s lights out. Regardless of the practice and how things are going, it’s not game-like. I don’t envy the

Hedman looks on after the Lightning score in the 3rd/ANDREW J. KRAMER

Hedman looks on after the Lightning score in the 3rd/ANDREW J. KRAMER

position, but there’s a reason he’s been really good at it for so many years, and he was good tonight.”

For most of the season, Budaj has watched as Vasilevskiy has taken the NHL lead in victories. But over the course of a season, a team needs more than one goaltender.

“A lot of people don’t understand the nature of the business when you’re in as tough of a position as the backup goaltender," said Steve Stamkos.  "You just get thrown in there sometimes, so I think it was nice to see him get in there when we didn’t have a back to back.”

Killorn battles for position with Barrie./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Killorn battles for position with Barrie./ANDREW J. KRAMER

The Avs scored on their first shot, but afterward, Budaj settled in.

“I think it was a tough start when the first shot was a goal, but my guys played really well in front of me and they scored right after," Budaj said. "The guys battled in front of me which made my job much easier."

Budaj said he has adjusted to his role.

“You just have to practice as hard as you can and try to prepare yourself," Budaj said. "Obviously, the practice is never going to be the same as the

Kucherov went scoreless against the Avs./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Kucherov went scoreless against the Avs./ANDREW J. KRAMER

game, but we do everything we can in practice to be ready to play.”

The Avs took the lead 1:21 into the game on a goal by Gabriel Landeskog, but Stamkos came back to score 25 seconds later.

After that, Tampa Bay got goals from Chris Kunitz, Vladislav Namestnikov, Alex Killorn and Brayden Point.

“I liked the way we played," Cooper said. "What I really liked was the huge one by Stammer. 21 seconds to answer that. Those first-shift goals, we’ve had a couple go in on us. It’s how you want to respond, and that line really responded. Stammer as a whole responded. He had a really strong game tonight. When you go down, to answer like that, everybody took a breath. We had a really, really strong first. It was too bad we couldn’t come out with the lead, but we knew we were playing pretty well.”

The Bolts conclude their home stand against Winnipeg Saturday night at Amalie Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

Stamkos reacts after scoring on the Lightning's first shot in the 1st,/ANDREW J. KRAMER

Stamkos reacts after scoring on the Lightning's first shot in the 1st,/ANDREW J. KRAMER

 

 

 

 

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