Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning shuts down Maple Leafs for 2-0 road victory

TAMPA — Anton Stralman was yelling to goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy from across a music-filled Lightning dressing room Tuesday night, laughing about what he was feeling during the final highlight-reel stop of the night.

Stralman thought Leafs forward William Nylander had scored in the final minute, putting a rebound inside the left post. But a sprawling Vasilevskiy got a piece of it, preserving his second straight shutout, a 2-0 win over the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Vasilevskiy said the shot hit the post and bounced under his pad.

"It wasn’t actually a save," Vasilevskiy said. "It was luck, pure luck."

Vasilevskiy is quick to downplay his success and his scoreless streak — which has reached 164 minutes. He credits teammates for their play in front of him. But those in the Lightning room firmly believe Vasilevskiy is the best goalie in the world. And with a league-most 26 wins, six shutouts and a .937 save percentage, it’s hard to argue. Vasilevskiy is certainly the hottest, with three shutouts in his last four starts.

"He’s been our best player all year," wing Chris Kunitz said. "He might be quietly going about it, but not in this locker room. We know how hard he works. He keeps the composure of our team. When he’s unfazed, our team just goes out and keeps playing the same way."

The Lightning (29-8-2) looks like it’s taken on the mentality of its No. 1 goalie. Vasilevskiy’s relentless work ethic and laser focus keep him from looking too far ahead. It’s a team full of dynamic stars and scorers, but they can also check, too, shutting down the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Nylander on Tuesday night (largely due to the Brayden Point line). The Leafs were thought to be a top challenger in the Atlantic Division, but the Lightning now has a whopping 12-point lead.

Coach Jon Cooper thought the game would have a playoff feel — and the teams would make for one fun seven-game series — but it ended up a little understated.

"Both teams checked, we got a couple breaks and pucks went in the net," Cooper said.

The Lightning’s breaks came in the second period, though it earned its luck. Cedric Paquette scored his first goal in nearly a calendar year (Jan. 21), one-timing a pass from Kunitz. Kunitz made it all happen, forechecking and stripping the puck from goalie Frederik Andersen. It gave Paquette a tap-in, the gritty forward smiling moments later on the bench as he threw the figurative monkey off his back

Then came Alex Killorn’s goal, with three minutes to go in the second. Killorn’s one-timer appeared to trickle through Andersen, but it was only until about five seconds later — when play was stopped by the horn — that he was credited with his goal. The NHL situation room, on the 10th floor of the same building, had verified via replay Killorn’s shot went in.

"It popped right out, so I didn’t think it went in," Killorn said. "I knew when the buzzer went, it was a goal."

That’s how good this Lightning team is, winners of 12 of the last 14. The Leafs held Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman off the scoresheet. And it still lost. That’s largely due to Vasilevskiy, who came through with some key saves in the first period.

Lightning0202
Maple Leafs0000

First Period—None.

Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Paquette 1 (Kunitz), 12:00. 2, Tampa Bay, Killorn 5 (Sergachev, Gourde), 16:54.

Third Period—None.

Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 12-13-11—36. Toronto 10-7-12—29.

Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 25-5-1 (29 shots-29 saves). Toronto, Andersen 20-11-1 (36-34).

Comments
Four Lightning players named to The Hockey News’ list of the top 50 in the NHL

Four Lightning players named to The Hockey News’ list of the top 50 in the NHL

The Lightning has one of the biggest collections of talent in the NHL, according to one international hockey publication.Tampa Bay placed four players — second-most in the league — on The Hockey News' list of the top 50 players in th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning to live stream six preseason games, starting Tuesday night

Lightning to live stream six preseason games, starting Tuesday night

TAMPA  — The Lightning will live stream six preseason games —starting with the 7:30 p.m. exhibition Tuesday against Carolina —at TampaBayLightning.com.The broadcasts are free and available only inside the Tampa Bay te...
Published: 09/17/18
Lightning’s Cal Foote may be the NHL’s most appropriately named player

Lightning’s Cal Foote may be the NHL’s most appropriately named player

TAMPA — No player on the Lightning's 61-man roster has a more fitting or appropriate name than defenseman Cal Foote.And it's not even close.Actually, good luck finding a last name on any NHL roster that fits better. Foote, Tampa Bay's first-rou...
Published: 09/17/18
Lightning journal: Center prospect Alex Barre-Boulet shows his scoring chops

Lightning journal: Center prospect Alex Barre-Boulet shows his scoring chops

BRANDON — C Alex Barre-Boulet did not want to try a complicated move. Not with Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy between him and the net.So Barre-Boulet went with old reliable as he drew close to the Lightning goalie."It is a move I use...
Published: 09/16/18
Lightning’s Jake Dotchin clears waivers

Lightning’s Jake Dotchin clears waivers

BRANDON— D Jake Dotchin cleared waivers Saturday, paving the way for the Lightning to terminate his contract for what it called a material breach.The team didn't give details when it announced its intentions Friday, but it is believed to h...
Published: 09/15/18
Trying to claim a Lightning roster spot? Let Brayden Point be your guide

Trying to claim a Lightning roster spot? Let Brayden Point be your guide

BRANDON — From the outside looking in, this year's Lightning training camp looks more like a tuneup than a tryout.There are not many new faces at the top end of the roster, which does not bode well for any young players hoping to make a squad t...
Published: 09/15/18
Lightning journal: D Jake Dotchin placed on unconditional waivers

Lightning journal: D Jake Dotchin placed on unconditional waivers

By NICK KELLYTimes Staff WriterBRANDON — D Jake Dotchin was placed on unconditional waivers Friday with the purpose of terminating his contract for a material breach, the Lightning said.The team disclosed no details but is believed to be unhapp...
Published: 09/14/18
Why the Lightning did not get Erik Karlsson

Why the Lightning did not get Erik Karlsson

BRANDON — Was the Lightning asleep at the wheel when superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson was traded from Ottawa to San Jose on Thursday?Did Steve Yzerman stepping aside as Lightning general manager distract the franchise from making a move on Ka...
Published: 09/14/18
Lightning journal: Familiar rehab territory for Ryan Callahan

Lightning journal: Familiar rehab territory for Ryan Callahan

By NICK KELLYTimes Staff WriterTAMPA — Whenever Lightning F Ryan Callahan needs encouragement while he rehabilitates a right shoulder injury, all he needs to do is look to his left.Four years ago, Callahan suffered a similar injury to his other...
Published: 09/13/18
Stanley Cup clock ticking for Steven Stamkos, Lightning

Stanley Cup clock ticking for Steven Stamkos, Lightning

TAMPA — Steven Stamkos had a quiet, uneventful summer."Which was a good thing, especially after the last couple of summers," the Lightning captain said Thursday as training camp opened.Stamkos wasn't rehabilitating a serious knee injury. He was...
Published: 09/13/18