Cernak faces down Ovechkin in win

by Gary Shelton on November 2, 2021

in general

Stamkos takes a hit behind the net./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

You can walk away from this one talking about Andrei Vasilevskiy. That's often the case, of course. Once again, Vasilevskiy was a contortionist in goal, swatting away defeat like another puck.

You can walk away talking about Brayden Point, who scored the winning goal, or Anthony Cirelli, who had three points, or Alex Killorn, who continued to hot start.

But this time, the conversation should start with Erik Cernak, the man in front of the firing squad.

It was early in the second period when Cernak stood between a laser shot by Washington's Alex Ovechkin, absorbing the shot on his lower leg. Seconds later, Cernak did it again.

"That’s how you win hockey games," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Someone's got to do it. It takes so much courage to stand in there and eat those. You know he’s not passing. It’s mano a mono in those situations. It was pivotal for us and courageous for him."

Another key moment in the game was a nice save by Vasilevskiy on Tom Wilson. For the night, Vasilevskiy stopped 31 of 33 shots in his 300th career start (and 195th career win). In his last three games, Vasilevskiy has stopped 83 of 87 shots.

“They’re finding ways to get points," Cooper said. "I’m not sure I was in love with our game tonight. I don’t think we managed the puck as well as we could have. Our goalie was a big part (of the win). That save he makes on Wilson in the start of the second is phenomenal. I did like the way we played after they made it 3-2. We were able to shut the game down. We’re gaming it out there against some good teams."

The Bolts now go on the road to face Toronto on Thursday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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