Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the way in exciting Lightning win

Tampa Bay’s goaltender records a career high with 54 saves to beat the Capitals 5-4 in overtime.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stops the puck during the third period of the team's game against the Capitals. The Lightning won 5-4 in overtime. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stops the puck during the third period of the team's game against the Capitals. The Lightning won 5-4 in overtime. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Published Mar. 21, 2019
Updated Mar. 21, 2019

WASHINGTON — The way Steven Stamkos sees it, the entire Lightning team owes Andrei Vasilevskiy a hug.

That’s what he told Pierre McGuire on the NBCSN broadcast immediately following Wednesday’s win over the Capitals, the second over Washington in a week.

The overtime game featured nine goals, traded leads, scrums and a fight, but Tampa Bay owes this win to Vasilevskiy.

He was called sensational (Stamkos), unbelievable (Victor Hedman) and exceptional (Jon Cooper).

Related: Up Next: at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. | TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/AM-970

“It’s pretty safe to say who our MVP was tonight,” Cooper said after the 5-4 overtime win.

Vasilevskiy saw 58 shots (“Shame on us for giving up so many chances,” Cooper said). He saved 54 of them, for a career high and franchise record.

He sprawled, he dove, he made a pad save while holding his stick upside down. In a flashy game that left fans entertained on all levels, Vasilevskiy deserves the most credit.

“The stats speak for themselves,” Ryan McDonagh said. “Another incredible performance and definitely wish we played a little bit better in front of him.”

Coaches will usually say the penalty kill starts with your goalie. That was truly the case Wednesday.

The Lightning gave the Capitals six power plays and killed all but one. Washington spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. Vasilevskiy didn’t allow much, making 15 saves on the kill alone.

Take, for example, a Capitals power play early in the third period. As the advantage expired, Vasilevskiy made saves first on Alex Ovechkin, then sprawled to the opposite post for Tom Wilson’s rebound.

In the second period, Vasilevskiy had a nice power-play stop on Evgeny Kuznetsov, coming in with speed. Kuznetsov didn’t elevate the shot, but Vasilevskiy stayed with him to make the pad save.

“The story was Vasy tonight,” Stamkos said. “(There were) a couple big penalty kills in the third where he was our best player.”

Vasilevskiy made a few nice saves on Ovechkin, who could be on his way to a 50-goal season at age 33. On one, Ovechkin tried to go high, and Vasilevskiy knocked the puck down with his shoulder, then grabbed it with his glove. Later, in the third period, he stopped a classic Ovechkin knuckle-puck one-timer from the left circle.

For comparison, during last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Vasilevskiy never saw more than nine shots on the penalty kill. He totaled four goals allowed on 30 shots in the series. Overall, he didn’t see more than 38 shots.

He did just about everything you could ask of a goalie. Vasilevskiy did allow four goals, but on 58 shots. That’s a .931 save percentage (just above his season average of .930, which is tied for second in the league).

Of the four goals, one came off a bad turnover at the blue line, one was a tough post-to-post play and one was a rebound. The goal Vasilevskiy might want back was Kuznetsov’s shot between his legs with 53 seconds left in regulation.

But the Lightning certainly isn’t holding that one against him.

“Obviously not up to our (team) standard, but he was,” Hedman said. “We’ve got to tip our hat to him and the PK today. I think that won us the game tonight.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes his third NHL All-Star Game appearance Saturday in St. Louis. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    NHL all-stars and players around the league praise the Lightning goalie for his size and athleticism, and for making both desperation and “boring” saves.
  2. Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, center, smiles as he is congratulated by teammate Steven Stamkos, left, and Erik Karlsson, right, after scoring a "no shot" goal for a hat trick during the NHL All-Star game Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 in Tampa, Fla. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Embrace players’ creativity with a shootout competition and hockey H-O-R-S-E.
  3. Tampa Bay center Anthony Cirelli doesn't necessarily have All-Star Game flair, but his importance to  the Lightning is never in doubt. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning have too many stars for everyone to be an all-star and they aren’t the only team with that issue.
  4. FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 file photo, the Philadelphia Flyers' mascot, Gritty, performs during an NHL hockey game in Philadelphia. Chris Greenwell has alleged that the mascot punched his 13-year-old son, Brandon, after a photo shoot in November. The Incident is under investigation. [DERIK HAMILTON                        |  AP]
    The Flyers mascot is accused of punching a 13-year-old “as hard as he could.”
  5. United States' Kendall Coyne skates during the Skills Competition, part of the NHL All-Star weekend, in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. [BEN MARGOT  |  AP]
    Diana C. Nearhos | Women’s hockey is at a crossroads as players try to figure out what kind of professional league they want.
  6. Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team general manager Kelly McCrimmon holds a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020. Head coach Gerard Gallant was fired less than two years after leading the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final. Peter DeBoer will be the coach for the rest of the season. [SEAN KILPATRICK  |  AP]
    Diana C. Nearhos | The NHL looks like musical chairs for coaches. Get to know Cedric Paquette.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrate after he beats Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill (31) to score the first goal of the game during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning forward has hovered just below 20 goals for years and finally reached the mark Friday.
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leads the celebration as players contratulate right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the game 3-3 in the final moments during third period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Tampa. The Lightning went on to win 4 to 3 in the shootout.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay went from sixth place in the Atlantic Division to second behind a 10-game win streak.
  9. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement