UNIONDALE, N.Y. — It came down to the goalies.
Andrei Vasilevskiy and Thomas Greiss put on a show Friday night, neither one gave up a goal in regulation and overtime. It took a shootout to name the Lightning a 1-0 winner over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Both teams had chances. Both put up big shots. In the end, Greiss made 41 saves and Vasilevskiy 36.
Victor Hedman scored the first and only goal of the shootout in the first round.
“Two great goaltenders, two great teams,” Hedman said. “Greiss played great against us last time, too (a 5-1 New York win on Jan. 13). Both teams didn’t want to bend and give up anything in front of our nets.”
The Islanders tested Vasilevskiy in overtime, with most of the play in front of him. He made six saves in overtime, including two on a power play — though it felt like more — in the final 1:37 of the period with Nikita Kucherov off for cross-checking.
“You come down to those situations, looking around the league, he’s the guy I’m tapping on the shoulder to be in net,” coach Jon Cooper said.
One of Vasilevskiy’s best plays, however, wasn’t even a save. In the first period, Vasilevskiy forced Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock to waste a breakaway. He positioned himself to pull Pulock to his stick side over and over, until Pulock’s shot hit the boards, wide of the net.
“It’s going to take a lot to deke (Vasilevskiy) in those kind of chances,” Hedman said. “He’s so quick post to post.”
Vasilevskiy showed off that post-to-post speed with an impressive save in the second period. Wing Leo Komarov carried the puck on a rush but passed to Valtteri Filppula late at the back door. Vasilevskiy sprawled to the get his pad in front of the shot to keep the score 0-0.
It was classic Vasilevskiy, demonstrating athleticism to get there at the last minute.
Vasy says nyet. pic.twitter.com/FuZ7giGqij— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 2, 2019
The Lightning has responded well to losses this season — it was coming off a 4-2 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday — but maybe Vasilevskiy especially so. He has tended to come out with even more fire.
“He rarely has an off night,” Cooper said. “He’s a rock back there. For us to be good, we have to play better in front of him. After the first eight minutes of the Pittsburgh game (when the Lightning trailed 3-0), we’ve been good defensively.”
Vasilevskiy wasn’t the only one making big saves, though. Greiss was just as impressive on the other side.
Early in the game, Brayden Point picked up a turnover at the blue line and advanced on the Islanders net. He almost came to a full stop to open up a shooting lane. Greiss made a nice pad save to keep the puck out.
Early in the third period, Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Point came at Greiss on a rush. On a couple of tic-tac-toe passes, Kucherov sent the puck to Johnson, and Johnson sent it to Point in front of the net. Greiss made a pad save on Point’s close-range redirection.
“They’re a really good defensive hockey team,” Johnson said of the Islanders. “They don’t give anything up. There wasn’t a whole lot of chances either way, so when you had them, you really had to bear down.”
Lightning0 0 0 0 1
Islanders 0 0 0 0 0
Tampa Bay won shootout 1-0.
First Period—None. Penalties—Boychuk, NYI, (tripping), 14:53Kucherov, TB, (tripping), 16:11.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Paquette, TB, (delay of game), 3:45Hedman, TB, (hooking), 7:48.
Third Period—None. Penalties—None.
Overtime—None. Penalties—Kucherov, TB, (cross checking), 3:23.
Shootout—Tampa Bay 1 (Hedman G, Kucherov NG), N.Y. Islanders 0 (Nelson NG, Barzal NG, Bailey NG).
Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 14-10-16-1_41. N.Y. Islanders 11-10-11-4_36. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 1N.Y. Islanders 0 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 21-7-2 (36 shots-36 saves). N.Y. Islanders, Greiss 14-8-2 (41-41). A—13,971 (16,234). T—2:42. Referees—Dean Morton, Justin St Pierre. Linesmen—Scott Cherrey, Travis Gawryletz.