Vasilevskiy’s highlight save gives Bolts a win

by Gary Shelton on October 24, 2019 · 0 comments

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Vasilevskiy stopped 38 of 40 shots./CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Poor Victor Hedman. His heroics came with 56.8 seconds to go, plenty of time for him to be supplanted as the player of the game. The winning goal? The big moment? All forgotten.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, on the other hand, is in charge of the last second.

Vasilevskiy made a diving, stretching save off a Kris Letang shot as time ran out in the Lightning’s 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh Wednesday night. Instant replay held up the ruling, judging that there was no clear view of the puck crossing the line.

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Hedman celebrates the winning goal./CHUCK MULLER

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Had Tampa Bay lost, the Bolts were looking at falling to 4-4-1.

The Lightning won perhaps its biggest game of the young season, holding off the Penguins in a game that was odd in that the players of both teams milled  around the ice, waiting to see if the Lightning had won or if overtime was coming up.

In the end, officials ruled that there was no clear shot of the puck being over the goal line and upheld the Lightning’s win.

Killorn fights for free space./CHUCK MULLER

“It’s hard to tell,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “They couldn’t tell with H.D.  cameras so i definitely couldn’t tell from the bench. At that point, you walk to the locker room and take a look. It looks like they made the right call. They’re being thorough. The hard thing is that the  TV clock clearly had gone. I thought it’s not even close. At the end, they showed the actual game clock and it was closer than I thought.”

Vasilievsky saved 38 shots on the night, but none were bigger than his last one. Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry stopped 45 of the Lightning’s 48 shots.

The Bolts fell behind 2-1 on two second period goals by the Penguins, but they came back on goals by Cedric Paquette and Hedman. Alex Killorn had scored in the first period for Tampa Bay.

“He is an extremely important player for us,” Cooper said. “We had no Point, no Paquette. For him to come back the way he did… He just brings an identity to his line. It’s really good to have him back.”

Stamkos battles for position./CHUCK MULLER

Cooper had spoken of Hedman's need to shoot more. 

“It’s been an Achilles’ Heel for us,” he said. “We haven’t been shooting enough, and Heddy is a guy who has to shoot. it’s just another threat when he’s shooting it.”

Cooper likes the run his team is on.

“We have a plan,” Cooper said. “We are slowly improving and executing our plan. It’s been really nice to watch what we’ve done. We’ve won three of four. and we’ve played playoff teams in this run. When you get rewarded, it has a little validity to it.

“I like where we’re at. I like the  way our game is improving. We still have room for improvement.”

Steven Stamkos thinks his team is better, too.

“Vasy with another highlight reel save,” Stamkos said. “It was nice to get a good break. We played hard and had to come from behind. It was nice to see the call come our way.”

 For Paquette, the goal come in his first game after coming back from injury.

The Lightning conclude their three-game homestand Saturday when they host the Nashville Predators at AMALIE Arena (7 p.m. puck drop).

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