Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy shuts out Flyers (w/ video)

PHILADELPHIA — Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy doesn't typically do interviews on camera.

A reason why is the 22-year-old Russian isn't completely comfortable with his grasp of the English language. But after Saturday's 3-0 victory over the Flyers, Vasilevskiy made an exception.

"Two straight shutouts," he said, smiling.

Vasilevskiy's confidence is the highest it has been in the NHL, and it should be. He is the first Lightning goaltender since Dwayne Roloson in 2011 to record back-to-back shutouts, and the sixth overall (Johan Holmqvist, 2008; John Grahame, 2006; Nikolai Khabibulin, 2001; Daren Puppa, 1996).

Vasilevskiy has helped fuel a season-high four-game winning streak for Tampa Bay (12-6-1), which is 2-0 since Steven Stamkos' knee injury Tuesday put him out for about four months. Vasilevskiy hasn't given up a goal in 151 minutes, 56 seconds, the league's longest active streak, and he has stopped 97 of his past 98 shots.

"He's locked in," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's in command. When guys are coming down, they're almost a little deflated because he's that in command of what's going on. He's tracking every puck. He's playing the puck well. When … stuff's getting a little scrambly, he's like the calm in the storm, and he's just swallowing pucks."

RELATED: Hit gives Lightning's Jonathan Drouin another scare.

That held especially true in the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Vasilev­skiy made 12 saves in thwarting the Flyers' second-ranked power play three times, the Lightning penalty kill going 5-for-5 overall. That enabled the Lightning to take the lead on center Tyler Johnson's late first-period power-play goal. Vasilevskiy has won five of his first seven starts this season (5-1-1), his goals-against average dropping to 1.43.

"He's been phenomenal," Johnson said.

Vasilevskiy was one of the few Lightning players who didn't get hurt in the physical game. Wing Jonathan Drouin had to have testing after Flyers center Brayden Schenn bumped him in the head late in the second; Drouin returned and scored in the third. Rookie center Brayden Point missed most of the second and part of the third when his visor cut his face, requiring stitches. Wing Ryan Callahan got banged up on a hit by former Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas, who was challenged to a fight by wing J.T. Brown. Buddies Gudas and Brown hugged in the hallway after the game.

"I think there was one point I got back on the bench and I was asking (wing Alex Killorn) where everybody was," Johnson said. "You don't really play like that except when you're 9 years old, so it's been awhile."

Wing Ondrej Palat's second-period goal, part of his first multipoint game of the season (he also had an assist), was more than enough for Vasilev­skiy. The Lightning has given him a larger split of starts behind No. 1 Ben Bishop, and Vasilevskiy said that has made him more comfortable.

Cooper said the Lightning is fortunate to have such a stout goalie tandem, and he doesn't feel pressured to play Vasilevskiy more.

"We've got a plan for both and right now, it seems to be working," Cooper said. "So we're not going to deviate from that."

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First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Johnson 6 (Filppula, Killorn), 14:25 (pp). Penalties—Coburn, TB, (boarding), 5:31; Kucherov, TB, (interference), 10:56; Couturier, PHI, (cross checking), 13:06; Johnson, TB, (high sticking), 16:30.

Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Palat 3 (Namestnikov), 7:40. Penalties—Gudas, PHI, Major (fighting), 6:37; Brown, TB, Major (fighting), 6:37; Read, PHI, (cross checking), 14:15; Sustr, TB, (holding stick), 18:46.

Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Drouin 3 (Palat), 4:26. Penalties—Kucherov, TB, (high sticking), 6:09; Palat, TB, (slashing), 18:24; Konecny, PHI, (slashing), 18:24. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 6-9-3—18. Philadelphia 12-7-13—32. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 2; Philadelphia 0 of 5. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 5-1-1 (32 shots-32 saves). Philadelphia, Mason 4-6-3 (18-15).

 
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