Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning’s Anthony Cirelli finally finds the net in Game 6

Notes | Also, after giving up two goals in 34 seconds, Andrei Vasilevskiy is unflappable down the stretch.
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli beats Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell during the second period of Game 6 on Thursday night in Tampa.
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli beats Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell during the second period of Game 6 on Thursday night in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published May 13|Updated May 13

TAMPA — Months from now, it may be hard to remember the finer details from Game 6.

It’s hard to look past Brayden Point’s game-winning goal in overtime that knotted the first-round series again with Toronto.

But Anthony Cirelli’s second-period, short-handed goal also had a role in keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive.

Cirelli had been held without a goal for the entire series, making the moment all the more special for the defensive-minded forward who puts up key minutes on the team’s second penalty-kill unit.

On the play, Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev made his way through the neutral zone with the puck on his stick with about 30 seconds remaining on Toronto’s power play. As he tried passing it off to Michael Bunting, Cirelli intercepted the pass at the blue line.

Cirelli raced toward goaltender Jack Campbell, with four players in tow, trying to beat defenseman Mark Giordano. The defenseman held the inside position, forcing Cirelli into a spin move that gave him the edge as he shot the puck past Campbell for a 2-0 lead.

“I think their D did a good job of angling me off, so I didn’t really have a lane,” Cirelli said. “That’s when I figured I just wanted to get one on net there.”

His coach was impressed.

“That’s a heck of a play by him,” Jon Cooper said. “... I’ve said it all series, it’s come down to special teams.”

A big night for Vasilevskiy

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a glove save on Toronto Maple Leafs center Alexander Kerfoot (15) during the third period.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a glove save on Toronto Maple Leafs center Alexander Kerfoot (15) during the third period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

For a moment or two, it looked like the Maple Leafs had frazzled one of the Lightning’s cornerstone players.

In a 26-second flurry, Toronto’s John Tavares slipped a pair of pucks past goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, the reigning playoff MVP, giving the Leafs a 3-2 lead.

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

It’s not often that Vasilevskiy looks off his game. But it was just the jolt he needed as he made 13 saves, including nine in overtime, over the next nearly 40 minutes of play.

One of his key saves in the extra period came on a turnover from Ross Colton in the Lightning zone just over two minutes in. Mikheyev jumped on the opportunity and sent the puck flying toward Vasilevskiy on a snapshot, but he stopped it with a glove save.

“I think Vasy made some huge saves for us there in overtime,” Point said. “They had some good looks. Vasy comes up big, and then we’re able to squeak one in.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

• • •

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge