Vasilevskiy slams door shut on Florida

by Gary Shelton on May 27, 2021

in general

Vasilevskiy had his second post-season shutout./CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

All series long, he was in the background, lurking, waiting. Sooner or later, the game was going to come down to Andrei Vasilevskiy.

For five games, the whispers had continued that the Florida Panthers, frankly, weren't cowed by Vasilevskiy. He gave up 16. goals in the first five games of the series, and the Lightning's supposed large edge in goaltending wasn't evident.

Until it counted.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

Wednesday night, Vasilevskiy was 10 feet tall. He had his second career playoff shutout, stopping all 29 shots in a 4-0 victory that closed out the first series of the playoffs for the Bolts.

“We have full confidence in him," captain Steven Stamkos said of Vasilevskiy. "A lot of people were talking about their goalie (Spencer Knight) after last game. Our goalie proved to us why he’s the best in the league.  They've got a great young goalie over there. We’ve got the best and he showed it tonight."

The game was the Bolts' most complete game of the series and, once again, Tampa Bay showed its skill in the big moments. It got goals from Pat Maroon, Stamkos, Brayden Point and an empty-netter from Alex Killorn.

“It was our best effort by far in the playoffs in the biggest game we’ve played so far," Stamkos said. "That's what experienced teams do in that situation. They step up, and we stepped up. We had a good feeling about tonight, but you got to back it up sometimes. We talked about it and we backed it up."

Vasilevskiy remembered his rookie season, when he was an understudy to Ben Bishop.

"He was amazing," Vasilevskiy said. "I thought 'maybe one day i’ll be like him. Tonigh'ts the day. Good for me."

The Lightning, technically, had two shots to win the series. But the team admitted it didn't want to return to Sunrise for Game Seven.

“Their power play ... it’s like two minutes of cardiac arrest," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the Panthers. They’re a skilled group that has you on your heels. In the end, you need your goalie to make some saves and, sure enough, he was there for us. He was seeing pucks tonight. He was tracking."

The Bolts will play against Carolina or Nashville in their next round of the playoffs. The teams play tonight in Nashville. Carolina leads their series 3-2.

Previous post:

Next post: