1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning’s struggling power play, Andrei Vasilevskiy come through in the clutch

A power-play goal in the final minute and a buzzer-beating save secured the win over the Penguins
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates his game winning goal in the final minute of the game to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in the third period at Amalie Arena Wednesday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates his game winning goal in the final minute of the game to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in the third period at Amalie Arena Wednesday. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Oct. 24
Updated Oct. 24

TAMPA — It came down to a sprawling glove grab by Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and some very high-definition video in New York.

The Lightning’s win wasn’t sealed until six minutes after the Tesla strike sparked. The video replay team at the NHL’s league office took that long to review Vasilevskiy’s buzzer-beating save.

Finally, referee Tim Peel announced — to a nearly silent arena — “it has been determined the puck never crossed the goal line.” The Tesla sparked all over again as three-quarters of the crowd erupted and the Lightning secured a 3-2 win over the Penguins. (Those in black and gold were less than thrilled).

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Team welcomes 46 Medal of Honor recipients

“You have to really make sure,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said of the long wait. “But the longer it took, the more confident I got that it wasn’t in. It’s tough to go along and all of a sudden find a goal.”

Vasilevskiy said it was worth the wait.

“There was a big scramble and I just tried to seal the bottom of the net,” he said. “He just shot it into my glove. It’s a kind of never-give-up play. It works sometimes. Not every time, though.”

The save was made as desperation devolved into a mess in the crease. The Penguins just threw the puck on net repeatedly in the final seconds. Ryan McDonagh collapsed in the crease, blocking a shot, then Erik Cernak joined him and Vasilevskiy.

Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang got off one more shot with one second left. Vasilevskiy threw out his glove and grabbed the puck. But the puck’s momentum carried the glove backward unknown fractions of an inch. It came very close to the goal line.

Vasilevskiy saw Letang prepare to take the shot and just tried to seal off the openings. The play happened too fast to know if his glove passed the line.

Even as the crowd erupted with the sound of the final buzzer, the Lightning and Penguins looked around with uncertainty. Sure enough, the officials huddled up for a review, and everyone waited.

The Lightning had only taken the lead 57 seconds before, as the struggling power play came through in the clutch, on its second opportunity in the final five minutes of the game.

“We tried to improve on our power play and haven’t really been having the success we had last year,” Hedman said. “So it was a big one for us.”

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Don't miss a thing this season. Subscribe now using promo code GOBOLTS to get three months of access for $14

First, Zach Aston-Reese sat for throwing his stick to a teammate who’d broken his own. The Lightning had nothing going on that power play, as they had on the two previous. But they got another chance when Jake Guentzel went to the box for hooking Anthony Cirelli.

The Lightning cycled the puck as fans, too used to the team’s over-passing ways, called for someone to shoot. Finally, Hedman found his opening. He ripped a one-timer from the center point, a few feet off the blue line, that sailed past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.

Even to Hedman it felt like the first shot on the power-play in a while (they didn’t put a shot on net on the previous advantage). He said he needs to be more of a threat to shoot the puck.

“It goes in spurts," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. “When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, it feels like nothing is going to go in. The more you shoot, the better the chances. Heddy let’s one rip and it goes in. It’s a huge moment for us and hopefully that can open the floodgates a little bit."

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) on the ice before a face off during the final minutes against the Minnesota Wild during third period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Tampa. The Lightning lost with a final score of 5-4.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Last year’s Hart Trophy winner missed a game earlier this season with a lower-body injury
  2. Lightning coach Jon Cooper, left, said Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in goal for the Lightning Saturday night against Washington at Amalie Arena. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Braydon Coburn returned to the ice, but there’s no update on Tyler Johnson
  3. Twenty years after making his debut as an NHL coach with the Lightning, Steve Ludzik is in dire need of a liver transplant. After a Facebook post by his wife MaryAnn earlier this week, a flood of potential donors have come forward. A handful have been identified as possible matches, but more are still being sought. Call (416) 340-5400 for more information. [Times files]
    Once diagnosed with Parkinson’s during his brief tenure as Lightning coach from 1999-01, Steve Ludzik is now in the fight of his life.
  4. Andrei Vasilevskiy was back to his usual acrobatic maneuvers while stopping 27 of 29 shots Thursday night, including this second period save on Boston Bruins center Joakim Nordstrom (20) with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) helping. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    John Romano | Tampa Bay’s early-season struggles were matched by the goaltender, whose numbers were not as dominant as last season. In recent games, that seems to have changed.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) beats Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period of the game on Thursday, December 12, 2019, between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The captain has a four-game goal streak and is one of the league’s hottest players this month.
  6. Bruins play-by-play broadcaster shared some thoughts during Thursday's game against the Lightning. [DIANA NEARHOS  |  TIMES]
    Three questions with Jack Edwards, the Boston Bruins’ legendary play-by-play broadcaster.
  7. The Lightning took on the Bruins at home on Thursday.
  8. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Bring a new, unwrapped toy to either (or both!) of the next two games
  9. Boston's David Pastrnak, left, and Washington's Alex Ovechkin were the NHL's top two goal-scorers through Tuesday's games. Both are coming to Tampa this week to face the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
    The Lightning face the NHL’s top two teams Thursday and Saturday
  10. The Lightning's Anthony Cirelli (71) and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy, right, watch the puck as the Panthers' Noel Acciari (55) defends during the second period on Tuesday in Sunrise. [LUIS M. ALVAREZ  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay doesn’t make costly mistakes and pays attention to details on defense, just like the team has been talking about.