Domingue ignores rust, leads Bolts to victory

by Gary Shelton on February 3, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

Domingue played well despite his inactivity./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 3 a.m.

They took him out of mothballs Saturday night. They knocked the rust off. They chased the spiders away.

And then they turned the game over to Louis Domingue, super-sub.

Domingue, the backup goaltender of the Tampa Bay Lightning, again stepped in front of a net and kept his team winning in Saturday night's 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers.

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Steven Stamkos has more goals than all of last season./STEVEN MUNCIE

Domingue ran his record to 17-4 with the victory. He's won his last nine starts and 12 of his last 13. Domingue stopped 31 of 33 shots, and continued to be the NHL's winningest backup.

“Especially on the road, it’s the way I prepare," Domingue said. "I’m ready for everything because teams usually come out strong in the first five minutes and once you do that and get the first goal, it makes it easier, especially on a back-to-back.”

It was Domingue's first game since Jan. 12 and only his second since Dec. 20. Despite the inactivity, he was sharp, especially after the Rangers narrowed the Lightning lead to one goal.

So how does he stay sharp on the bench?

“You can’t," Domingue said. "I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty hard, especially with the bye week, Christmas break, I think I’ve only played two games since a little bit before Christmas. It’s not easy. There’s no special recipe to do it. Just got to find the details in practice and once your name is called, you’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to find a way.”

Domingue found a way.

“Louis played outstanding tonight," said captain Steven Stamkos. "I thought we felt a little tired today coming off an emotional win with huge intensity last game against the Islanders. Late start tonight, we were on our heels from the beginning. We did a good job in the second of establishing the lead and we just kind of hung on. I thought the last couple games for whatever reason, we’re on the kill a lot. Our PK did another great job, a big kill at the end.”

Stamkos scored his 28th goal of the season. In 52 games, he has scored more than he did a year ago (27) in 78 games.

“When you win a lot of games throughout the season, you’re going to win in different ways and you just have to be comfortable in winning different ways," Stamkos said. "We knew we had a two-goal lead going into the third. We did hang on. That’s the way it’s going to be coming down the stretch and in the playoffs. You’re going to have leads in the third whether at home or on the road and you’ve got to find a way to win those. We’ve relied on our depth a lot this year, and that’s what happens.

“We saw (Domingue's excellence) when Vasy was out for that extended time with the injury, Louis came in and played 12 in a row and won 11 of them. We have the luxury of having a goaltender that can step in regardless if he hasn’t played in the last six, seven games or if he’s going to go on an extended run. He’s proved to be a great goalie when he’s gone in there and he’s won us a lot of hockey games and tonight was a night where we relied on him and he was there for us.”

Erik Cernak scored the first goal of his career in the victory.

“I was really happy for the first goal," Cernak said. "Obviously, that was a great feeling scoring first goal, especially in this building. It was awesome for me.”

Said Stamkos: “He’s had a lot of chances this year. He’s played great. He’s maintained his focus and his confidence, so it was great to see him rewarded. Great play off the rush by Cally. Nice to see it go in. The bench was pretty pumped up.”

The Rangers fell behind 3-0 (Yanni Gourde also scored) but trimmed the lead to 3-2.

“The Rangers had their legs, and we were kind of holding on there in the beginning," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Louis made some big saves for us. We didn’t give up a bunch of chances in the game. We gave up a bunch of zone time but when we did, Louis was there. We talked about what we had to do in the second, and for about a 12 to 15-minute run there, that’s where we turned the game around. Unfortunate to give one up late there in the second and then we just make one mistake in the neutral zone on the power play and all of a sudden you’re hanging on. To the Rangers credit, they pushed.

“It takes leadership and it takes an attitude knowing that you feel like you can win every game. Naturally, that’s not going to happen, but you need that, especially if you want to play deep in the spring that panic buttons aren’t getting hit and they haven’t done that this year.”

The Bolts now return home to face the Vegas Knights on Tuesday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.








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