It’s Andrei Vasilevskiy world. And we’re living in it. Vasilevskiy came into the game 2 minutes shy of the longest shutout streak this season held by Seymon Varlamov of the New York Islanders. Another Russian netminder was coming for that steak and so much more. Vasilevskiy play is eclipsing Vezina trophy and approaching Hart Trophy quality season. It’s no secret Tampa Bay has relied on the 26 year old a little too much. The results speak for themselves, Tampa is 1st in their division and once again a heavy favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning have been in a routine since being humiliated by Carolina 4-0 on February 20th. When a goalie gets hot you gotta ride that streak as long as it will go.
Andrei Vasilevskiy started the game on fire. Just minutes into the game Vasilevskiy robbed Andrew Coligno on a 3-1. Silencing the limited crowd. Blake Comeau took an early interference penalty on Tyler Johnson. The Lightning powerplay continues to roll as Ondrej Palat scored at 7:29 into the first period. Palat scored from the spot Nikita Kucherov usually plays in the Lightning special teams unit. Jon Cooper has made adjustments and had Brayden Point and Palat filling that slot possession and has payed off in spades. Palat tallied his 9th goal of the season, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman assisted on the goals, the two stars running that powerplay to perfection.
For the next two 40 minutes the Lightning didn’t produce a lot of offense. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 18 shots in the first two periods. Dallas had a number of decent scoring chances but were unable to convert. A low scoring grudge match headed for the final frame Tampa holding the slightest of leads for the moment
Brayden Point has been heavily covered in recent games and made an impact in a very different way tonight. After being in a duel of sorts with Andrew Cogliano all game long Point and Cogliano Dropped the gloves a fight that Brayden Point definitely got the better of Cogliano laying him out on his back after a few furious punches. Tampa was assessed a devastating extra minor to Brayden Point for Slashing that was put mildly, laughable. But quality of the call or not the Lightning faced a massive penalty kill. Vasilevskiy and the penalty kill unit killed it off. Both sides of the special teams have been evident during this winning streak. Dallas had perhaps their best chances of the night off of a inexcusable turnover by The Lightning behind the net, Vasilevskiy robbed Jason Dickinson with 2:17 left in regulation. Yanni Gourde put home another empty net goal with 5 second left in regulation putting the icing on the cake for Vasilevskiy’s third straight shutout and The Lightning’s 5th straight victory.
It can’t be stressed enough how important Vasilevskiy netminding has been. He’s at 199 consecutive minutes without a goal. Vasilevskiy leads the league in GAA (1.65) save percentage (.942) and wins (13) this isn’t just the some of the best goaltending in franchise history. It’s some of the best goaltending in NHL HISTORY. If he can keep his numbers where they are he could be in for a historic season and a run at a 2nd straight Stanley Cup.