There were so many bodies in front of the net at Friday's practice, it had to be difficult for Kristers Gudelvskis to see the puck.

But the Lightning goaltender somehow made a leg save when the puck squirted free, and after his teammates vacated the area, Gudelvskis allowed himself a small pump of his fist.

"He battles," captain Marty St. Louis said. "He's a big boy."

He's also one step away from history. Because if Gudlevskis, Tampa Bay's backup while Anders Lindback is on a conditioning assignment at AHL Syracuse, gets in an NHL game, it is believed he will be the first goaltender to play in the ECHL, AHL, Olympics and NHL in the same season.

Lindback's conditioning stint could be done Sunday, so if Gudlevskis is going to get in a game this season, it probably has to be quick. And it just so happens the Lightning plays back-to-back games today at Dallas and Sunday at Colorado.

"If I get this game, it would mean everything," Gudlevskis said. "You do everything to get here and get this game."

It has been quite a season for Gudlevskis, 21, who was drafted 124th overall last summer to little fanfare out of HK Riga, the junior team of Dinamo Riga of the KHL.

It took Gudlevskis 11 games to be promoted from ECHL Florida to AHL Syracuse, and his 55 saves for Latvia against Canada in the Olympic quarterfinals got him worldwide recognition and encouragement in the handshake line from St. Louis, who played for Canada.

"I told him great job. I mean, unbelievable," St. Louis said.

Not bad for someone who, when he showed up at the Lightning's summer development camp, had hand-me-down equipment Tampa Bay replaced.