TAMPA — Now that was a comeback. Two days after Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled from an embarrassing loss in Dallas, the goaltender turned away 25 shots and posted his first shutout of the season as the Lightning beat the Stars 4-0 Monday night at Amalie Arena.
“Obviously, I didn’t have much to chew on the last few games, so that game was pretty huge for me and for our team,” Vasilevskiy said. “It feels pretty good.”
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Lightning (11-10-5) and came on the night they honored Victor Hedman for playing in his 1,000th NHL game. He became the first Lightning defenseman and third player in franchise history to reach that mark, joining Vincent Lecavalier (1,037) and Steven Stamkos (1,027).
“Dallas is a phenomenal team,” Hedman said. “I think we actually have played better in some games that we lost than we did (Monday), but Vasy was big and the guys were working hard, and we were able to capitalize on our opportunities.”
Here are four things that helped the Lightning bounce back to beat the Stars.
Vasy is back
With less than four minutes remaining in the first period, the chants began.
“Vasy, Vasy,” the crowd chanted, serenading Vasilevskiy’s return to the form that led his team to two Stanley Cup championships and three Cup Final appearances in the past four seasons.
Vasilevskiy, who missed the first 20 games of the season after undergoing back surgery, looked rusty Saturday in Dallas. He gave up six goals on 25 shots and was pulled after the second period.
Monday, he resembled the goalie who stole some wins for the Lightning and anchored those championship squads. He posted the 33rd shutout of his career and sixth against the Stars.
“He’s back,” Lightning coach John Cooper said.
Vasilevskiy admitted it’s taking a while for him to get there.
“I can prepare my stamina and my physical ability, but to save the puck, you can’t really practice that,” he said. “Only through the games I can get better at it. It was only the first game I really felt like myself. … So I just had fun (Monday), and now turn the page.”
Vasilevskiy showed he was on his game during a crucial early stretch, making back-to-back stops on Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson as the Lightning struggled to get the puck out of their zone.
He kept it up the rest of the night.
Keeping up with Kucherov
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When Nikita Kucherov snapped a wrist shot past Stars goalie Jake Oettinger 7:47 into the game, he extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games.
Kucherov now has eight double-digit point streaks, fourth-most among active players behind Connor McDavid (12), Sidney Crosby (11) and Leon Draisaitl (nine).
Less than 11 minutes after his goal, Kucherov also ran his assist streak to 10 games with a helper on the first of Anthony Cirelli’s two goals.
Kucherov’s assist streak ties Vancouver’s Filip Hronek for the longest in the NHL this season and matches the Lightning record for the longest such run, shared by Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis.
Cirelli came to play
Cirelli had been held scoreless in the previous three games. Monday, the center put the Lighting up 2-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the first period with his first goal since Nov. 27 at Colorado.
Cirelli won a faceoff in the Dallas zone and posted up in front of the Stars net. He held his position as defenseman Erik Cernak circled toward the back of the net then flipped the puck back to him. Cirelli redirected it past Oettinger for just his second goal in the last 11 games.
He added a second goal just over 12 minutes into the third period with a backhand shot that extended the Lightning’s lead to 4-0.
“Everyone (Monday) was rolling on all four lines,” Cirelli said. “All four lines were going hard for 60 (minutes), and then obviously Vasy. ... So we were just kind of rolling like that.”
Take the block
The Lightning blocked 24 shots to help Vasilevskiy preserve the shutout.
For Luke Glendening, one also led to a goal.
Glendening blocked a Ty Dellandrea shot in front of the blue line and took the puck up the ice on a breakaway. He closed quickly on Oettinger and scored on a backhander to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead just over three minutes into the third period.
It was Glendening’s fourth goal of the season.
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