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Lightning journal: First year as starter a record-breaker for Andrei Vasilevskiy

The goalie will finish the season as the first in franchise history to lead the NHL in wins.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy finishes the regular season with 44 wins and eight shutouts, both team records. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy finishes the regular season with 44 wins and eight shutouts, both team records. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published Apr. 7, 2018
Updated Apr. 8, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Because he was not going to play the second of back-to-back games to end the regular season, Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy did not make the trip to Carolina for Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss.

So the book closed on his record-breaking season with Friday's 7-5 victory against the Sabres.

Vasilevskiy, who set the franchise season record with 44 wins, tied for the league lead in victories with the Jets' Connor Hellebuyck, who got his 44th against the Blackhawks on Saturday. Vasilevskiy is the first Lightning goalie to lead the league in wins.

Not bad for someone completing his first year as a No. 1.

"You just watched the growth of a young player, and his trajectory continues to go up," coach Jon Cooper said. "That's what you want to see in guys. If there were questions about whether he could handle the load of the No. 1 guy, I think he's answered them all."

Vasilevskiy's breakout season included setting the franchise record for shutouts with eight and road shutouts with six. He also tied the Predators' Pekka Rinne for the most shutouts in the NHL. Vasilevskiy allowed two or fewer goals in 31 of his 65 games/64 starts.

The century mark

RW Nikita Kucherov earned his 100th point of the season Friday while assisting on D Dan Girardi's goal.

Kucherov — who was pointless Saturday to finish with 39 goals and 61 assists — is the third Lightning player to reach 100 points in a season, joining Vinny Lecavalier (108 in 2006-07) and Marty St. Louis (102 in 2006-07).

Kucherov credited his teammates.

"Without those guys, I wouldn't be there where I am right now, and I much appreciate them for the help they did for me," Kucherov said. "I think you know not every season you get 100 points. I think it's something special, and I will definitely remember it for the rest of my life."

He is the sixth Russian player to record 100 points, joining Alex Ovechkin (four times), Evgeni Malkin (three times), Alexander Mogilny (twice), Pavel Bure (twice) and Sergi Federov (once).

Slap shots

D Cal Foote, the Lightning's top pick in the 2017 draft, scored his first pro goal on his first shot Friday for AHL Syracuse against Binghamton. … C Brayden Point tied Steven Stamkos' franchise record for winning goals in a season with his 12th Friday. … The playoff schedule will be announced Sunday. The Lightning is expected to open Thursday at Amalie Arena.

Contact Roger Mooney at rmooney@tampabay.com. Follow @rogermooney50.

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