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The Lightning lost, but Tuesday was Andrei Vasilevskiy’s best game of the year

Diana C. Nearhos’ takeaways: Why were the Lightning so tired? This game got chippy very quickly.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) looks at the puck behind him after New York Rangers center Filip Chytil scored during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in New York. The Rangers won 4-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) looks at the puck behind him after New York Rangers center Filip Chytil scored during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in New York. The Rangers won 4-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) [ KATHY WILLENS | AP ]
Published Oct. 30, 2019
Updated Oct. 30, 2019

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a game on Tuesday. The Lightning lost but the goaltender was at his best.

He made 38 saves and couldn’t have done much on the three goals he did give up. One deflected off Braydon Coburn. One came on an incredible tip by Filip Chytil. One came on a three-on-one, finished by Adam Fox.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: A rash of injuries is not what the Lightning need while struggling to find their feet

What Vasilevskiy did do was make numerous highlight-reel saves. At this point, it might take a lot to make his personal highlight reel. This game, though, he didn’t just have a one-off great save. He made them consistently.

Late in the second period, Vasilevskiy was tested on back-to-back shots. First, he made a pad save on Chytil. Artemi Panarin picked up the rebound and immediately threw it at an opening on the far side of the net. Vasilevskiy got back to make the glove save.

Read up about the 4-1 loss to the Rangers

The Lightning got bit by the injury bug all at once. They started the game without Anthony Cirelli and ended it without Victor Hedman and Pat Maroon. What might this mean going forward? Read more.

Dan Girardi was recognized by the organization with which he spent most of his career. The Rangers played a video tribute and Girardi dropped the puck before the game. Read more.

Kevin Shattenkirk had pride on the line last night. He wanted to prove wrong the team that bought out his contract this summer. Read more.

More notes and thoughts from the game

·Why were the Lightning so tired? They were down two players and the short bench is a real thing. BUT (capitals needed) no one played super high minutes. Alex Killorn was something of a surprise to lead forwards with 22:35 of ice time. But Steven Stamkos (20:37) and Ondřej Palát (20:22) were the only other players to break 20 minutes.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Sign up for our Lightning Strikes newsletter to get news and exclusive content straight to your inbox

Everyone (except Nikita Kucherov who already averages 19:27) played more minutes than they are used to last night. The Lightning typically tries to use its depth to keep overall minutes lower and on Tuesday, they only had three lines. But, again, the minutes weren’t that high by league standards. Panarin, for example, averages 21:05.

The Lightning looked and played gassed last night. They got caught flat-footed and couldn’t catch up to plays. And yet, for some reason, Carter Verhaeghe only played 7:45.

· If you called that this game would get physical and chippy in the first three minutes, I’m skeptical. But that’s what happened, almost as if there were some bad blood held over from a previous game. The first 150 seconds featured a fight between Pat Maroon and Michael Healy, then a large scrum after Luke Witkowski committed a boarding penalty.

· The Lightning have now lost to two of the four worst teams in the league. They had a poor showing against Ottawa and then were flat and tied against the Rangers. Next up, the Devils, who sit at the very bottom of the NHL.