TAMPA — Redemption has to wait a little longer when you’re a backup goaltender, and it took the Lightning’s Curtis McElhinney 10 days to get back on the ice to put a poor performance behind him.
“At times, you’re riding high, and then other times, you get smacked around pretty good and you just can’t wait to get back in there,” McElhinney said.
The 37-year-old knows the Hurricanes well. He played for Carolina two years ago, one of eight stops in a 13-year NHL career. And he studied Carolina from the bench the past three games before getting the start Thursday night.
On a night his teammates needed a boost, McElhinney provided it, recording 31 saves in the Lightning’s 3-1 win at Amalie Arena.
“I don’t know if we gave out three stars (for the game), but he should have been star one, two and three,” said coach Jon Cooper.
As much as that was meant as a compliment for McElhinney, Cooper’s statement also expressed his disappointment in the overall play of the Lightning (13-4-1).
“(McElhinney) was unbelievable,” said defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who scored the tying goal in the second period. It was his first goal of the season.
“You can even see it in practice. He never lets anybody score on him. He tries so hard, and you can see it in the game, too. He made some saves today that were like, ‘Whoa.’
“It was really…