Vasilevskiy saves a point for sluggish Lightning

by Gary Shelton on November 3, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Vasilevskiy stops Mike Zibanejad up close./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy stops Mike Zibanejad up close./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 3 a.m.

Vasilevskiy has been the Lightning's best player./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy has been the Lightning's best player./CARMEN MANDATO

There is a reason that the Tampa Bay Lightning have 22 points today.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stole their latest in a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

Call it highway robbery. Adventures in pick-pocketing. The Rangers swarmed all over Vasilevskiy in the third period Thursday night, firing laser beams at him. It was like Vasilevskiy was facing a firing squad, and all he could do was twist and contort and keep them at bay.

In the end, Vasy stopped 33 shots, and the one he didn't stop was when J.T. Miller swept by two of his teammates (Braydon Point and Yanni Gourde) and placed a top-shelf shot at point blank range. It was one of those hung-out-to-dry

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Cooper and Stamkos argue a disallowed goal should count./CARMEN MANDATO

Cooper and Stamkos argue a disallowed goal should count./CARMEN MANDATO

moments when a team desperately hopes he can make another stellar save. The truth, however, is that Vasy did about all he could do.

“They should have had about six,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

Callahan fights with Kampfer of the Rangers./CARMEN MANDATO

Callahan fights with Kampfer of the Rangers./CARMEN MANDATO

“We had to rely on him tonight. Most games, we have had to rely on him. If you want to win games in this league, you need to have goaltending. He clearly got us the point tonight. No question about that. He's been doing that all year for us. He's been our MVP.”

It was a shame that the Bolts wasted that kind of effort. But they managed but eight shots in the first period and only four in the third. Defensively, they allowed several breakaways to the Rangers.

Still, the Bolts forced overtime, and they might have won had Alex Killorn's third period goal not been waved off for goaltender interference, a call challenged (and upheld) by Cooper.

“That was a bad call,” Cooper said. “The only person in the building who thought that wasn't a goal was the ref. He missed it. You can tell by the goaltender's reaction if he thinks it's goaltender interference. He (Henrik Lundqvist) didn't react one ounce. You're allowed to be in the blue paint. It did not impede his ability to make the save. The shot beat him. It's his (ref's) opinion. He gets to make the final decision. It's no goal. I would disagree.”

Said Lunqvist: “I want to come out. I can’t come out. I can’t play the position, so I think it was absolutely the right call. Sometimes, I think players think that they have to bump the goalie but he comes in there and I can’t come out, so I think it’s the right call for sure.”

Point battles for the puck./CARMEN MANDATO

Point battles for the puck./CARMEN MANDATO

Still, Cooper made no excuses.

“Give the Rangers credit,” Cooper said. “They deserved to win that game. They skated. They had a gameplan in place. They skated by us. When it was a tight checking game. We just can't think it's going to be a track meet every night and we're going to skill our way out.

“The game probably ended up the way it should have ended up. But we were way too loose. We were 'don't worry, Vasy will get it.' You can't play like that.”

Yanni Gourde scored the only goal for the Bolts on a fine pass from Victor Hedman.

“The Rangers probably haven't had the start that they expected,” Cooper said. “They were desperate and they played like it. Good on them. We didn't play desperate. We played like it was Game 82 and we've already accomplished something.”

The Bolts are home against Columbus on Saturday night. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

Gourde scored the Lightning's only goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Gourde scored the Lightning's only goal./CARMEN MANDATO

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller November 3, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I can’t believe how good Vasilevskiy was in that game. Bishop who?

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Gary Shelton November 3, 2017 at 10:50 pm

He really was amazing. His defense hung him out to dry, but he kept making wonderful saves.

I did a study last year. Most of the great goaltenders didn’t become great until they were experienced. Vasilevskiy looks like he’s going to be special, too.

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