Different goalie, same result for Bolts

by Gary Shelton on February 9, 2021

in general

McElhinney came out of storage Monday night./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

Hey, didn't you used to be Curtis McElhinney?

It had been so long since Lightning fans had seen McElhinney, the way-backup goaltender for Tampa Bay. Seldom seen, seldom heard. That's the life of McElhinney, one of the league's least-played backups.

For 11 months, McElhinney might as well have been in an equipment room somewhere, stuck in mothballs waiting for Monday night. He hadn't played since March of 2020, and he hadn't won since February.

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This time, however, with a rare off-night given to starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, McElhinney stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 4-1 victory. Half the shots came in the third period as the Predators tried to get close.

“It felt great," McElhinney said. "Obviously, it’s been a long time. Overall, it was a great performance from the team. We knew they were going to put a push on in the third period."

The Lightning started strong, clogging the middle to protect McElhinney.

"I think it was an ideal start for our team," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "To have as little work as he had in the first period was probably good for him. We settled in as a team. The only thing that really hurt us in this game.  was taking the penalties. Mac was big for us. The first 40 minutes helped."

The Bolts got two goals from Anthony Cirelli, then two empty netters from Blake Coleman and Steven Stamkos. They are now 8-1-1 on the season.

The Lightning and Predators play again tonight. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:30 p.m.

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