Monday, April 23, 2018
Sports

Lightning: Andrei Vasilevskiy comes up big in 4-1 win at Ottawa

OTTAWA — When new Senators coach Guy Boucher discussed Saturday's showdown with the Lightning, he spoke more in reverence than about revenge.

"They don't have a lot of flaws," Boucher said.

And Boucher found that out the hard way, the former Lightning coach handed an 4-1 loss at the Canadian Tire Center. It was the first time Boucher faced Tampa Bay since getting fired in 2013 after four seasons as coach.

While Tampa Bay (4-1) has yet to put together a complete 60-minute performance, this was a great way to kick off a six-game, 11-day road trip, the next game Tuesday in Toronto.

Backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy came up big, especially in the Senators second-period flurry, with 27 saves. The Lightning power play snapped out of a three-game drought with two goals, including one by captain Steven Stamkos. And Alex Killorn helped seal the win with a huge insurance goal midway through the third, his team-leading fourth of the season.

It helped that, for the first time in five games, Tampa Bay scored the game's first goal. The Lightning had led for just over 26 minutes combined in the first four games, but never trailed in this one.

It began with a strong start. Coach Jon Cooper shuffled the lines, reuniting Vladislav Namestnikov, Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, the trio a dynamic force Saturday. Though Tampa Bay failed to score a first period goal for the fifth consecutive game, it held a 14-4 shot advantage the first 20 minutes, controlling play.

The Lightning then took a two-goal lead with goals on back to-back power plays in the second period. Namestnikov got the first one, redirecting a point shot from Anton Stralman, who picked up his 150th career assist. Four minutes later, Stamkos converted a Namestnikov pass for a one-timer from the left circle.

The Senators would battle back, swarming in the second half of the second period, outshooting Tampa Bay 14-1 in the process. Ottawa pulled within one with five minutes to go, Chris Neil pouncing on his own rebound as Vasilevskiy lost control of the initial shot.

But had it not been for Vasilevskiy, this would one have been tied. Vasilevskiy stoned Ryan Dzingel on the doorstep during a power play, and then made a blocker save on a blast from Cody Ceci with just under two minutes left. Vasilevskiy then thwarted Chris Kelly early in the third. In just his second start of the season, Vasilevskiy showed why he'll get a larger share of the split with starter Ben Bishop.

After the Lightning failed to convert on a third-period power play, Killorn gave Tampa Bay much-needed breathing room with about 10 minutes to go. Killorn's shot from the right circle beat Craig Anderson to make it 3-1. And Killorn's linemate, Valtter Filppula, put it away with a breakaway goal in the final minutes. Rookie Brayden Point earned his second NHL point with an assist.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes-JSmith.

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