Vasy’s strength, Coleman’s sizzle lead Bolts

by Gary Shelton on July 1, 2021

in general

Coleman had a highlight-reel goal./CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

In the celebration of the latest victory of the Tampa Bay Lightning, this question came to mind:

Could Marc-Andre Fleury have won this game?

Could he have stopped 42 shots by a desperate Montreal team? Could he have kept his team from falling asleep in a mundane second period? Could he have his teammates two vicxtories away from a second straight Stanley Cup.

Could anyone?

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The easy answer is "probably not." Vasilevskiy was 10 feet tall Wednesday night, leading the Bolts to a 3-1 victory in Game Two. The win was the perfect response to voters who chose Fleury as this season's Vezina winner, although Fleury won five fewer games in the regular season and five fewer (so far) in the playoffs.

It was one of Vasilevskiy's sharpest games, and one where he helped steal the game from the opponent. He has now allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his last 10 starts.

"Vasy is on pretty much every night," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "I don’t know if we have to think about it. Our team game was off. There were some remarkable individual performances. Vasy and Blake Coleman, but it was an unremarkable team game we had going on.  Vasy gave us a chance to win tonight."

Said Ryan McDonagh: "He was  the absolute competitive gamer we know he is. Night in and night out, he's the backbone of this team. I can’t say enough good things about him. We want to make it a little bit easier than we did for him. He’s an abosute warrior and competitor. The biggest piece of our win here tonight.”

Another key piece that fans will remember was the goal by Coleman that happened just before the end of the third period. The clock was running out on what was a subpar period for the Bolts when Goodrow came up with the puck. Teammates were yelling for him to shoot, but instead, he passed to left across the ice.

Coleman left his skates, diving forward toward the net ahead of Montreal's Phillip Danault and poking the puck past Carey Price for a 2-1 lead. The Bolts played better in the third period to gain the victory.

"It was the kind of goal you say 'we'll see that on SportsCenter tonight," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

Cooper remembers consoling Coleman after he had a late turnover against the Islanders.

"I said 'don’t. you dare lose a night's sleep over a turnover he thought cost us a game. You are one of the straws that stir the drink for this team.' All he’s done is had a remarkable game seven and two remarkable games here in the final. He’s a winner."

Goodrow said he wasn't sure why he didn't shoot except that he thought Coleman might have a better angle.

"It takes tremendous effort," Goodrow said, "to dive like that for a puck and still get good wood on the to get it on the net. It’s a pretty special play. The guy's got a knack for those deadly shots."

Said Coleman: "It was just kind of a reaction, really. I know they had a back checker there and I tried to beat him to the puck. I don’t think anyone’s trying to dive on the ice. In that moment, it was all we had. Goody couldn’t have put it in a better spot. "

Also scoring for the Bolts were Anthony Cirelli, who scored on a long-distance shot, and Ondrej Palat, who made a steal and score play in the third period.

The Canadiens now must try to beat the Lightning in four games out of five to win the series.

The teams play again at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Friday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.

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