Vasilevskiy stops 54 shots in overtime victory

by Gary Shelton on March 21, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

Vasilevskiy now has 36 wins on the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Pay little attention to his worst moments. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed in four goals Wednesday night. He allowed the goal to tie the game and force overtime with 53 seconds to play.

On the other hand, he was terrific.

Vasilevskiy faced a franchise-most 58 shots Wednesday night, stopping 54 of them to lead the Bolts to a 5-4 overtime win over Washington. It beat the franchise save record of Ben Bishop by six shots (Bishop set the previous record of 48 in 2014).

Vasilevskiy has now won 15 of his last 16 games and is 36-8-4 on the season.

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Hedman scored the winner in overtime./JEFFREY S. KING

“It was pretty safe to say who our MVP was tonight," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He was exceptional. It’s shame on us for giving up that many scoring chances, especially to a team playing a back-to-back. But we’ll wake up in the morning and see the box score, and it’s going to say 5-4 Tampa. Vasy is a big reason for that.”

It continued the Bolts exceptional season with the team's 57th victory over the year. Their 118 points trails only five previous President's Trophy winners. Their 57 wins are tied for sixth most of all time.

“Vasy was sensational," said Steven Stamkos. "We didn’t play our best. I thought we got some big power-play goals at the start of the second. We just weren’t smart with the puck, a couple turnovers that fueled their rush, and if you give a good team like that chances, they’re going to bury them. They got some life and they just carried it.

"I thought the story was Vasy tonight, a couple big penalty kills in the third where he was our best player. Just one of those games where you could tell they had a little more emotion than we did, but we still find a way to win. That’s kind of been the way it’s been all season. We’ll take it, but we’ve got to improve, certainly puck management.”

Victor Hedman scored the winning goal 3:01 into overtime. Nikita Kucherov had two goals, Steven Stamkos one and Anthony Cirelli one.

Special teams also played well for the Bolts. Tampa Bay allowed only one goal on six pentaly kill  opportunities and scored a goal on all three of its power play chances.

“Not only was Vasilevskiy our star, but our special teams were our stars as well," Cooper said. "We took way too many penalties. I think we were shorthanded for 11, 12 minutes of the game. To kill off what we did was a big part of why the score ended up like it did. You’ve got to tip your cap to the power play too. Only a couple minutes of power-play time, but they made quick work of it and to score three, special teams was the difference.”

Kucherov and Stamkos each have 37 goals on the season. Brayden Point has 38, which gives the Bolts three of the top eight scorers in the NHL.

"We’ve got to start coming out a little more disciplined as far as taking stick penalties," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "Tripping, hooking, those ones kill you, especially in the playoffs. We want to make sure we’re disciplined and not putting good teams like Washington to the power play and giving their top guys looks. We were tested for sure, and Vasy was a big reason why we didn’t get burned.”

The Lightning plays again tonight against Carolina at Raleigh's PNC Arena. The puck is schedule to drop at 7 p.m.

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller March 21, 2019 at 9:41 am

Great to see the Lighting continuing to play hard and win games through the end of the regular season but it does seem to be time to give Vasy and maybe some others a little rest to keep them healthy and fresh for the playoffs. I’m sure the backup goalie will play tonight but I’d like to see more nights off for Vasy from this point on before the playoffs start.

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Gary Shelton March 21, 2019 at 10:47 pm

I understand. Cooper isn’t big on letting off the gas pedal, is he?

Ive said this before: One of coaches’ hardest decisions is the age old equation of when to ease off and when to allow his players to stay sharp. Remember Dungy letting most of the Colts off, and then losing to a Pittsburgh team in the playffs?

I’d certainly slack off some with Vasi, and maybe reduce the minutes for Hedman, Kucherov and Stamkos. But I really think he’s paranoid about a rusty team.

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