Saturday, November 25, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Goalie Vasilevskiy's second start part of Lightning's plan (w/ video)

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OTTAWA — Backup G Andrei Vasilevskiy got the start Saturday against the Senators, his second of the season.

But Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it was part of the plan to get Vasilevskiy more playing time, not a reflection of the performance of starter Ben Bishop. Bishop has allowed 11 goals in three games, including four in Thursday's 4-0 loss to the Avalanche. Cooper said coaches want to give Vasilevskiy one start a week minimum, and Saturday was the night.

"In the time I've been here, I don't think I've ever sat here and said, 'This goalie is playing this way' and I decide not to play him," Cooper said. "The last couple years with 'Vasy,' we've tried to slowly put him in."

Cooper said the Lightning's goaltending has been great, noting how unlucky the team has been with bad bounces and deflections leading to goals, including a weird carom off the Zamboni door in Colorado's fourth goal Thursday.

"I've never seen anything like this," Cooper said. "Three-quarters of the goals against us have touched us last before going into the net."

LIGHTNING TOPS SENATORS: A strong start leads to a 4-1 win.

Cooper has said that ideally Bishop would start 50-plus games this season and Vasilevskiy 30, which is in line with the ratio so far, Bishop having started three of the Lightning's five.

NO GRUDGE: Senators coach Guy Boucher insisted that Saturday wasn't a "revenge day" against the Lightning, which fired him in 2013.

"I'm very calm and almost cold about it," Boucher said.

Part of it is due to how much time has passed. Only two current Lightning players, C Steven Stamkos and D Victor Hedman, played for Boucher during his 2010-13 tenure. Boucher also maintains a good relationship with GM Steve Yzerman, saying they've talked "many, many times" since.

Boucher said he owes a lot to the Lightning organization for giving him his first NHL coaching job. He went 97-28-20 with Tampa Bay, leading it to the Eastern Conference final in 2011.

Boucher also said he learned a lot from that stint with the Lightning that will help him in Ottawa. His coaching style, practice plans and systems haven't changed much, said Ottawa F Tom Pyatt, who played for Boucher in Tampa.

Boucher said more of his adjustments have been mental, worrying about things he can control.

"It's everything outside the game, that's the big thing to adjust," Boucher said. "Coaches, we control 60 percent, if we stay humble. There are so many circumstances around the game, whether it's game day or trades or contracts, all kind of stuff that, if you focus on that, you waste a lot of energy. This time around, its' a lot easier knowing what's coming ahead of time.

"I'm very calm about pretty much everything right now because it's something I've seen before."

NUTS AND BOLTS: RW Ryan Callahan (hip surgery) continues to skate with the team, potentially returning at the end of this six-game trip. … The Lightning entered Saturday one of two teams that hadn't scored a first-period goal. Vancouver was the other.

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