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Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy stands tall against Panthers

Two days after allowing six goals, the Tampa Bay goaltender rebounds to stop 39 of 41 shots in Game 4.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) keeps his eyes locked on the puck with Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) challenging in the crease during the second period.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) keeps his eyes locked on the puck with Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) challenging in the crease during the second period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published May 22, 2021
Updated May 22, 2021

TAMPA — One of Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s best attributes is his ability to block out distractions and slow games.

Lost in the chaos that became Tampa Bay’s 6-2 win over Florida in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Saturday was how Vasilevskiy shut down the Panthers.

Once again, Florida had its share of chances, including seven power plays, but Vasilevskiy stopped 39 of 41 shots in the game as the Lightning took a 3-1 series lead.

Vasilevskiy’s performance came two days after he allowed six goals in the Lightning’s Game 3 loss. He had allowed 11 goals in the first three games of the series.

Vasilevskiy saw a flurry of shots early in Game 4, as the Panthers launched 34 of their shots in the first two periods.

“Obviously, the first (period) wasn’t our best this series, but I actually felt pretty good,” Vasilevskiy said. “I actually saw a few pucks in the first, and I thought we were pretty good in the second, and unfortunately we took a few unnecessary penalties, and I just tried to play my game. I didn’t think about any outcome. I just kept playing.”

Both goals Vasilevskiy allowed were on power plays.

“He’s done a great job,” forward Alex Killorn said. “The way (the Panthers) play, they tend to get some odd-man rushes, they tend to take some risks to get those. And he’s been great for us. I think (Saturday), on the (Lightning penalty kill), he’s facing a lot of high-end shots. And he’s just doing a great job.

“It might have been too much work for him (Saturday). I think we got to stay off the (penalty kill). But all in all, he’s been playing great.”

Vasilevskiy seemed to feed off the energy of the limited capacity crowd of 9,762 at Amalie Arena as Lightning fans chanted “Va-sy, Va-sy” throughout the afternoon.

“That gives me lots of energy after the big saves,” Vasilevskiy said. “Obviously, the fans are a big part of our game. They gave us so much emotion in these two games (at home). I’m pretty sure they’ll give us even more moving forward.”

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