Vasilevskiy, Kucherov lead Bolts to a 1-0 victory

by Gary Shelton on October 25, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Kucherov scored the only goal of the game./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 4 a.m.

You can compare his night with all of his other nights.

You can compare the shots he faced, and the opponents who peppered him with good chances. You can consider how quick he looked in goal, and how he turned away every shot. You can talk about his previous dozen shutouts or his previous 89 victories.

Perhaps then, you can start to appreciate the night that Andrei Vasilevskiy had.

On the other hand, you can compare his game with all of his other games.

You can compare the speed with which the puck leaves his stick. You can compare the way he stands up to the moment. You can compare the 150th goal

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Vasilevskiy shut out the Avs./CARMEN MANDATO

of his career with all of his others. You can measure the way he stands up to the other great goal-scorers in the league.

Perhaps then, you can understand what a big moment it was for Nikita Kucherov.

Vasilevskiy and Kucherov combined to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night. The Lightning are now 6-1-1 on the season.

Vasilevskiy stopped 23 shots, including 11 in the first period. He is now third on the team's all-time shutouts list.

Kucherov scored on a power-play with 13:36 to play for the team's goal. He took a pass from Steven Stamkos and snapped the puck home. Kucherov is now tied for fourth place with Brad Richards on the team's all-time scoring list.

Vasilevskiy and Stamkos have developed a nice chemistry together.

“A lot of instinct took over on that (scoring) play there," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "It was a broken play. Kuch made a great play on the wall to keep the puck in because he kind of had to eat a puck high and when players have those types of instincts, that’s what takes over and that’s what happened on that play. You give it to Kuch in that spot, he’s usually got a good chance of putting it in and that’s what he did.”

Kucherov gave credit to Stamkos.

“Nice to get a chance to play with Stammer on the PP," Kucherov said. "We know each other very well. They got a little tired so he was a little more able to make a play and that’s what happened.

“He’s a good player. He’s definitely able to make those plays, sell the shot and make a move around the D. When everybody’s expecting him to shoot, it makes it easier for us to get open. All I have to do is just get open, find a lane and I’m sure that he can make (the pass). It’s just fun to watch when he’s doing this.”

Said Stamkos: "I think we’ve had two or three shifts together in the last three games and we’ve had a Grade-A chance, scored a couple. Maybe we’ll put a little word in the coaches’ ear. Obviously, anytime I get on with him, we know the chemistry’s there. It’s exciting the things he can do with the puck and how he can suck guys in. I can try to find him, and he can try to find me. It’s nice to see it click tonight on the one shift and that just gives us some confidence.”

The Lightning gave up a first-period goal, but the team challenged the play, and it was ruled that the Avs were offsides.

"Nigel (Kirwan) and Brian (Garlock) were in the back room," Cooper said. "That’s a big job in today’s game. You have to trust them. The tough part for us is the video is on the floor of the bench, so by the time you’ve walked on it a few times you can’t see anything anyway. So you need help on it. It was pretty clear that they guy had lifted his foot. Probably a huge break for us . But if that wasn’t offside, they had some pretty good jump there in the first period. So that was a big boost. Obviously, that really helped us.”

As early-season games go, this one was a measuring stick for the Lightning.

“I think it’s more so it’s so early in the season proving to ourselves we can win those tight games when the offensive opportunities aren’t as many there in the game and find a way to keep sticking with it there on the road," said Ryan McDonagh. The bench was just full of energy throughout the whole game as it continued on. Guys were pulling for one another and guys embracing whatever the challenge was, power play, penalty kill or five-on-five.”

Stamkos was pleased with the Bolts' overall team effort.

“That’s a really good hockey team over there, and that first line was probably the, they’ve been the best line in hockey so far," Stamkos said. "They’ve been hot to start the year, and huge credit to Paquette, Callahan and Miller tonight. After our sluggish start, they really shut those guys down in the second and third when they were matched up against them. Not often can you do that on the road, but they did a fantastic job and we were able to build off that. Anytime your goalie can pitch a shutout, you usually find a way to win and that’s a big win for us.”




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