Vasilevskiy sharp in another Bolts’ victory

by Gary Shelton on October 19, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevskiy makes a stop in his third win./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 4 a.m.

Once again, he is on the prowl.

Once again, his eyes sharpen as the opponent nears, and once again, he is quick beyond belief, and once again, he protects the net as if he were a guard dog.

Five games into the season, and already, Andrei Vasilevskiy is the finest weapon the Tampa Bay Lightning has.

On a team with Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, that is saying something. But most

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Welcome back: Ryan Callahan puts Hicketts into the boards./STEVEN MUNCIE

nights, Vasilevskiy is a jigsaw puzzle without colors. He is impossible to figure out.

It was that way again Thursday night, as Vasilevskiy beat the Detroit Red Wings for the seventh time without a loss in his career. This time, it was 3-1, and Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots.

Palat collides with Jimmy Howard./STEVEN MUNCIE

"I don’t know if we need to say any more words," said captain Steven Stamkos, who scored the winning goal. "It’s pretty amazing what he can do game in and game out. He’s our hardest working guy. He’s so competitive. We’re glad he’s on our side."

Vasilevskiy, who won 44 games (tied for eighth, all-time) a year ago, ran his record to 3-1. He's given up just six goals in four games. He's stopped 130 of 136 shots.

The Bolts handled Detroit for the 12th straight time, getting a goal from Point early. Stamkos provided the winner, and Alex Killorn added an empty netter at the end.

Stamkos celebrates his first goal of the season./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Bolts are 4-1 on the season.

“To be honest, it should have been 5-0," Stamkos said. "Obviously, the PK (penalty kill) has been outstanding, the goaltending has been outstanding. The power play is definitely gaining some momentum, so that’s a good thing to have the special teams rolling.

"We've just got to stay out of the box. We’re taking way too many penalties. It’s good for the PK to get those reps in and stay hot but it’s not a recipe long term. We’ll look to cut back on that, but it’s nice to play with some leads and hold onto them and it was another example tonight.”

Killorn and Ehn have a difference of opinion./STEVEN MUNCIE

Cooper agreed his team is in the penalty box too often.

"If there's one thing that's probably a little bit of a red flag right now is the amount of penalties we're taking," Cooper said. "Our penalty kill has done a phenomenal job this year. You just can't be putting them to the test. Guys are sitting now. Guys are getting gassed. You kind of lose your rhythm. You lose your flow. But give Detroit credit, they probably had a little over seven minutes of power play time in the second to kill it off. But it's hard to regain momentum in a game when you're constantly in your end."

Hedman led another strong defensive effort./STEVEN MUNCIE

For the Lightning, forward Ryan Callahan made his debut after being injured.

“It felt good," Callahan said. "Obviously, it's great to be back. As anticipated, the timing is still to come. We tried to make some plays that aren’t there. It’s always good to be back and get that first one out of the way and calm your nerves down a little bit. No matter when you’re coming back for a return, you have a little bit of jitters. It’s good to get that one out of the way.”

For Stamkos, it was his first goal of the season. He had 10 shots on the night.

“I’m going to continue to work hard, stay on my game, whether it’s in the gym or on the ice," Stamkos said. "You keep working hard, good things are going to happen. It is nice to get it, but it’s nice to get it and get the win and have a meaningful goal that helps the team win.”

The Bolts now leave for the road. They play in Minnesota on Saturday night (8 p.m.) and play against Chicago on Sunday (7 p.m.).

Tyler Johnson celebrates with Brayden Point./STEVEN MUNCIE




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