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Vasilevskiy extends shutout streak as Lightning top Leafs

During the first game of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s five-game road trip, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up a shutout while receiving plenty of offensive help. On Tuesday night, Vasilevskiy came to the rescue when the offense dried up.

As a result, the Lightning (29-8-2) remained perfect on their road trip and Vasilevskiy maintained his shutout streak. The Lightning netminder stopped all 30 shots he faced as Tampa Bay blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs (23-16-2) 2-0 at the Air Canada Centre. The shutout is the second in a row for Vasilevskiy and his NHL-leading sixth clean sheet of the season. In addition to picking up his league-leading 26th victory of the year, Vasilevskiy extended his shutout streak to 166:46. Since losing to Philadelphia 5-3 last Friday, the Lightning have rebounded by winning the first two games of their current five-game road trip.

While Vasilevskiy and his shutout streak stole the show, the Lightning received some offense from a pair of unusual sources.

Following a highly-entertaining, back-and-forth first period that saw no goals, Tampa Bay drew first blood on the first goal of the season for Cedric Paquette. The play started when Chris Kunitz hounded Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen behind Toronto’s net, forcing a turnover. Kunitz fed the puck in front to Paquette, who tapped it home for the goal with eight minutes remaining in the second period. After a recent string of bad puck luck, Paquette found the back of the net for the first time since January 21, 2017 at Arizona.

However, when it came to bad puck luck, nobody had it worse than Alex Killorn until this game.

Killorn recently has generated a lot of scoring chances, but couldn’t hit the back of the net, as evidenced by two goals in the team’s last 11 games. Things changed with 3:06 remaining in the second period. Mikhail Sergachev began the play when he took a pass from Yanni Gourde and skated the puck into the Toronto zone, carrying the puck behind the net. He fed it in front to Killorn, whose shot appeared to be stopped by Andersen. The puck squeezed out and sat in the crease before Leafs defenseman Roman Polak cleared it out of danger. During play, the officials stopped play to take a look when it appeared Killorn’s shot might have gone in. Following a review, replays showed the puck crossed the line as Killorn’s fifth goal of the season gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead.

A hallmark of this Lightning team is how when the offense slacks off, the goaltending is there to pick things up, and vice versa.

Vasilevskiy certainly picked things up for the Lightning, as he and Andersen each made several key stops for their teams. Both the Lightning and Maple Leafs are fast, skill-based teams that aren’t afraid to push the pace of play. In a game filled with each team exchanging high-quality chances in end-to-end action, both goalies came up big time and time again. However, no save in this game was bigger than this one:

Leafs winger Mitch Marner pounced on a loose puck that got past Bolts defenseman Jake Dotchin. Skating in alone, Marner deked to his forehand and tried to elevate the puck past Vasilevskiy. The Lightning netminder shut it down, getting his glove on the shot just over halfway through the second period. That save preserved a 0-0 score just a few minutes before Paquette’s eventual game-winner.

Tampa Bay’s road trip continues on Thursday night when they head to Montreal to face off against the Canadiens. Puck drops at 7:30 pm.

Game Notes

-Vasilevskiy has now given up just one goal in his last four starts.

-Paquette’s game-winning goal was just the fourth of his NHL career.

-With Paquette finding the back of the net, Braydon Coburn is now the only Lightning skater who hasn’t scored a goal this season.

Tyler Johnson‘s 12-game point streak came to an end. He tallied eight goals and 10 assists in the month of December.

Nikita Kucherov‘s 10-game point streak also ended after notching six goals and 10 assists in that time.

-Tuesday’s win marked the first time since November 29 that the Lightning didn’t score at least three goals, ending a streak of 13 straight games.

-Killorn’s goal was his first since December 21 against Ottawa.

My Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Made 30 saves for his NHL-leading sixth shutout of the season

2nd Star: Cedric Paquette – Notched his first goal since January 2017 and just the fourth game-winning goal of his career.

3rd Star: Alex Killorn – Scored his fifth of the season while also taking four shots on goal, tied for most among Bolts forwards.

 

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