Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Vasilevskiy: I have to be better mentally

PHILADELPHIA — It looks like G Andrei Vasilevskiy could use a mental break.

Vasilevskiy, 22, started his eighth straight game Saturday, a 4-2 loss to the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. If, as expected, Vasilevskiy plays today against the defending champion Penguins, he'll start on back-to-back days for the third time in three weeks after having never done it before as a pro.

Vasilevskiy, who has allowed 14 goals in his past three starts, is 4-4-1 with a 3.28 goals-against average since taking over for Ben Bishop (lower-body injury), hurt Dec. 20. The other option is starting Adam Wilcox, who has yet to play in an NHL game.

"Physically I'm fine," Vasilevskiy said. "I'm still young, I can play many games in a row. But it's all about mentally right now. It's all in my head. I have to be better in my head and just handle my thoughts during the game."

Coach Jon Cooper said Vasilevskiy's workload is similar to other starters'. He pointed out that Vasilevskiy had time to rest on a four-day Christmas break and the Lightning won't play again until Thursday. "People make a big deal out of starting six or seven games in a row," Cooper said. "But (Vasilevskiy) did that in the Eastern Conference final last year."

BROWN DOWN: RW J.T. Brown left the game midway through the third period after taking a shoulder to the head on a hit by Flyers RW Wayne Simmonds. Brown didn't appear to see Simmonds coming as he got clipped at the blue line. No penalty was called. "Didn't look good to me," Cooper said.

The league was reviewing the hit and will likely have a decision today on whether Simmonds will have a hearing or otherwise be disciplined. Forwards Michael Bournival and Erik Condra, scratched by AHL Syracuse on Saturday, could be recalled.

LINING UP: D Braydon Coburn (upper body) did not play and was questionable for today. C Brian Boyle (lower body) missed his third straight and is out today. D Luke Witkowski, recalled Friday, played. D Slater Koekkoek was a healthy scratch.

MARTY CEREMONY: There are five speakers for Friday's Marty St. Louis jersey retirement ceremony, which begins at 6:30 p.m. and is on Fox Sports Sun: commissioner Gary Bettman, GM Steve Yzerman, C Steven Stamkos, owner Jeff Vinik and former Lightning coach John Tortorella, in town with the Blue Jackets.

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