TAMPA — Andrei Vasilevskiy was gone less than 14 minutes into Monday's game, called to the bench after allowing his third goal of the first period. It looked over for the Lightning.
But Vasilevskiy returned to start the second period, and that would be the difference as the Lightning rallied for a 5-4 overtime victory against the Blackhawks.
"After the first period I was thinking (darn it)," Vasilevskiy said. "Coach gave me a second chance, and I made a couple of saves and the guys played really well."
Coach Jon Cooper said he knew Vasilevskiy was going back in the game.
"The feeling I had was we were going to win and Vasilevskiy was going to win this game for us," Cooper said. "He just needed a six-minute break."
Said D Jake Dotchin: "I think he came back, had some fire in his belly and really proved himself."
Vasilevskiy allowed one more goal then became a stone wall. It was the first time he recalled being pulled then reinserted in the same game.
"First time," he said. "It wasn't bad."
The play of the night, before C Yanni Gourde's winner, was the save Vasilevskiy made against Patrick Kane with 12 minutes left in regulation. Kane broke between D Victor Hedman and Dotchin in the offensive zone, fought off a poke check by Dotchin, regained the puck, skated to Vasilevskiy's right and fired away. Vasilevskiy stuck out his right leg and kicked the puck away.
"In my head I'm thinking, 'Remember that one,' " Cooper said.
Said Vasilevskiy: "I just play the situation. It wasn't something crazy. I just kick my leg and I don't know how to explain it. That was a huge save for us."
Stamkos an award finalist
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. "It's an honor," Stamkos said. "Obviously, I would like to have done all those things while being healthy this year. I'd probably trade that in. I take pride in the way I go about it and being a professional, how you prepare to go out and ultimately help your team any way you can, both on and off the ice." The Masterton award is presented by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. The winner will be announced in June.
The Lightning began a four-game homestand Monday in a better state of mind than when it left for Boston after losing all three games on its previous homestand. "The feeling flying up to Boston was a heck of a lot different than the one flying back from Detroit," coach Jon Cooper said. "But it shows a little character of what is going on in that room. The one thing for us is you just got to turn the page. It's like a book, and let's see what the next chapter is going to be like." Tampa Bay earned four points with wins at Boston and Detroit .