Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning goalie Vasilevskiy big when needed in first start

TAMPA — G Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn't thrilled with the way his first Lightning start of the season began — two goals less than five minutes into Saturday's game against the Devils.

But the rest of the night — especially the final six minutes — were what the Lightning has come to expect from the No. 1-A goalie. "When we needed the big save, Vasy was there," coach Jon Cooper said.

Vasilevskiy settled in and finished with 32 saves as the Lightning rallied for a 3-2 victory.

"It wasn't a good first period, two bad bounces and two goals," Vasilevskiy said. "But we did a good job to stay in the game, scored some important goals and just shut the door after that."

Vasilevskiy made eight saves in the final six minutes, three when the Devils were on a power play and two in the final minute after the Devils pulled goalie Cory Schneider.

Vasilevskiy's start was a product of the early-season schedule and Cooper's desire to get Ben Bishop's backup more starts this season. The Lightning has just one set of back-to-back games this month, meaning it has at least one day, sometimes two days, between games.

"If we front load Bish this early, Vasy is not going to see a game for a while," Cooper said.

ANOTHER COMEBACK WIN: The Lightning comes back from a second straight 2-0 deficit in the first period to beat the Devils.

Bishop, who has started at least 61 games in each of the past three seasons, said he's okay with the projected lightened workload.

"Obviously you want to play every game, but that's why (Cooper) gets paid the big bucks," Bishop said. "There's nothing wrong with a night off, especially when you've got a capable guy coming in. It's definitely not going to hurt taking an extra night's rest."

A CHALLENGING MOMENT: D Andy Greene appeared to have put the Devils ahead 3-2 in the second period with a power-play goal, but Cooper challenged that the Devils were offside when bringing the puck into the zone.

Replay showed that F Michael Cammalleri was a full stride past the blue line ahead of the puck, and the goal was disallowed.

"We never had TV on the bench before, so this year the NHL is putting TVs on the bench. That really helps," Cooper said. "That was a big moment for us, and I thought that went perfect."

THE FIRST POINT: Rookie F Brayden Point recorded his first NHL point when he assisted on F Valtteri Filppula's winner in the third period. "No bigger time to get your first point than on a game winner at home," Cooper said. "(Point) just continues to impress."

POINT MADE: The Lightning was right to break with recent history to keep first-year pro Braden Point.

NUTS AND BOLTS: D Slater Koekkoek was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. … D Braydon Coburn played in his 700th career game, F J.T. Brown in his 200th. "You just want to get to your second game, especially as a young guy," Coburn said. "You don't look at the 700 behind you. You look at whatever is in front of you."

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