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Now, About The Goaltender

By Martin Fennelly

Everywhere you turn when it comes to the Lightning these days, you're talking about something outstanding.

The team leads the NHL with eight wins and 17 points. Captain Steven Stamkos leads the league in scoring with 20 points. Nikita Kucherov leads the league with 11 goals. Both players have at least a point in all 10 Lighting games. The Lightning have the best power play in the league.

And then there is their most important player.

It's goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, all 23 years of him, has been the real reason the Lightning are 8-1-1.

Vasilevskiy has been in the net for all those wins, leading the league. He has a 2.22 goals against and a .936 save percentage. Ove the last five games, he has allowed just five goals and owns a .970 save percentage. He is there when his team needs him.

Check out his save percentages these last five games: .966, .935, 1.000, .966, .969.

"We're playing really defensively, guys doing an amazing job in front of me," Vasilevskiy said. "It's all about the team. They're helping me. I'm helping them."

Vasilevskiy and his team stated slowly that opening weekend in a back-to-back with Florida, which included the Lightning's only regulation loss.

Vasilevskiy has been there ever since.

"You've seen it," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "How many goals has he given up the last five games? That just goes to show you defense is going to win games. But we're relying on him a little too much, to many grade-A scoring changes against. Obviously, he's been great."

"There's room for improvement for everyone," Vasilevskiy said. "It's all about consistency. I know we're not going to play our best game every night. Sometimes, they're going to score six goals. Some nights I need to be there. Some plays, I need to be there. I help them."

There's something about No. 88.

"If there's one thing, the kid does not quit," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He's never out of a save. We're early into the season, but there are at least three or four already this year, where you say, 'Oh, that's in the net.' And then it's not. He defines battling. You can look at his physical stature, his athletic ability, his technique, all those things. But he's got that desire not to give them up, not get beaten."

The Lightning have their answer in goal No doubt. They just can't get too comfortable with that fact.

"You can't rely on your goaltender to bail you out every time," Hedman said.

Andre Vasilevskiy has won more games than any goalie.

He's not getting comfortable.

"So far. It's nice," he said. "That doesn't mean we can take a breath."