Vasilevskiy’s play leads Lightning victory

by Gary Shelton on March 7, 2022

in general

Vasilevskiy is now 12-0 against Chicago./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

If you pay attention to the boxscore, the effort of Andrei Vasilevskiy really wasn’t all that terrific.

He faced only 27 shots, and three of them went into the net. Vasilevskiy has had nights when his numbers were much, much better than that.

Then again, boxscores lie.

If you grade the chances he faced, Sunday night’s 6-3 victory over Chicago

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was a keep moment for Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy was a contortionist against the Blackhawks, twisting and sliding and keeping his team in the game.

Vasy earned his 30th victory of the season — his fifth straight season with at least 30 — with a harder-than-it-looks effort over Chicago. The Blackhawks were much better than Tampa Bay in the first period, and only strong play by Vasilevskiy kept the team within a goal.

“If not for him, the first period would have been 4 or 5-0,” said defenseman Victor Hedman. “We have to wake up in the first period. I don’t know what’s going on , but we’ve got to have better starts.”

Granted, Vasilevskiy can be a force on most nights. That’s why he’s won 179 games in the last five years. But this was one of his best.

“It (the boxscore) is going to say Chicago scored three goals on Vasy, but that was one of the more remarkable goalie’s performances I’ve seen in a long time,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “There is making big saves, but if you watch the highlights, just show the saves he made.

“It wasn’t me shooting. It was a Hall of Famer shooting. These were big-time saves. The goalie is there to bail you out if you’ve broken down; we broke down way too often. It’s happened a little bit as of late. You can’t play perfect for 82 games; I understand that. We were fortunate Vasy was on tonight.”

Besides Vasilevskiy, the defense had a good night, scoring four goals — two by Hedman — and getting eight points.

In the third period, the Bolts scored three goals in a team-record 32 seconds (Hedman, Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev) to blow open the game.

“It was crazy,” Hedman said.

The win was the first of a six-game road trip for Tampa Bay. The Lightning play Tuesday night in Winnipeg at 8 p.m.

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