Bolts take 2-0 series lead on Hurricanes

by Gary Shelton on June 2, 2021

in general

Vasilevskiy has won six games this postseason./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

When Andrei Vasilevskiy wins another Vezina Trophy -- and doesn't it feel like just a matter of time? -- he needs to bring some of his buddies to the awards' ceremony.

You know: Ryan McDonagh. Victor Hedman. Erik Cernak. Mikhail Sergachev. Those guys.

His guard dogs.

It was because of Vasilevskiy and his backup band that the Lightning took a strong 2-0 lead in their second-round playoff series Wednesday night, winning a 2-1 game. The Bolts are now 4-1 on the road in the playoffs.

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It was the second road win over the Hurricanes -- the Bolts started the playoffs in the same manner. They were away from home, and they were badly outshot. But there is something about the Bolts that seems calm in the third period of close games.

In this case, that something is the defensive crew.

"Vasi is a world-class goalie, don’t get me wrong," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "When he is in the zone, I don’t know if there is anybody better. He prepares himself for games. It’s a luxury to have him back there.

"I look at our team defense tonight. People will look at the shot clock and say ‘look, the Lightning got outshot. ‘ but the way we look at is 'were they quality shots?' Could our goalie see them?' That’s what we want to do. Let him see pucks, clear rebound, and when we do break down, he’s there to pick us up. It does make you sit an inch taller on the bench when you have him back there."

Vasilevskiy stopped 31 of 32 shots. In his last three games, he has stopped 97 of 99 shots.

The Bolts' success in the last two seasons is largely because of the team's ability to play well down the stretch.

The Bolts got goals from Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn.

We’ve been through them (games) before," Cooper said. "We’ve got a group that believes in how to play and what you need to do to shut a game down. t They work so damn hard and they sacrifice. When everybody puts the team first, magical things cam happen."

"To be honest, there’s to going to be a lot of pretty passing play goals in this series," said Lightning center Steven Stamkos. "There's not a lot of room out there iwth the way the teams defend, the way both goaltenders are playing."

Carolina scored its goal with 90 seconds to play and made a push to tie the game, but the Lightning held them at bay.

“It’s all-out. do-whatever-you-can to keep the puck out the net," Stamkos said. "We’ve got guys who do whatever it takes. We’ve seen guys willing to block a slot. That’s a championship pedigree right there. It sucks to give one up late there, that’s why we earned the two-goal lead."

The Bolts will play Carolina again Thursday night, this time at Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.

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