Andrei Vasilevskiy Plays Big Part in Lightning Start To The Season

The Tampa Bay Lightning has adopted the mantra of the late Al Davis, one-time owner of the Oakland Raiders. “Just Win, Baby.” And that’s what the Lightning have done despite losing two of their top offensive players.

The Lightning is in the middle of a five-game road trip which started with a 3-2 overtime win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Steven Stamkos 12th goal of the season was the game-winner in overtime. The Lightning then blasted the Flyers 7-1 for their third consecutive win on Sunday night. The Bolts improved to 15-5-4 on the season with that win.

This season, the Lightning have 15 wins thanks to fantastic goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy has been sensational this season and was the star of the game Saturday stopping 37 Boston shots in a game where the Lightning were outplayed. Vasilevskiy is off to a great start this season, going 12-4-3 with a 2.13 goals against average.

If not for the play of Vasilevskiy, this game would have gone in the loss column for the Bolts.

Steven Stamkos was quick to talk about the play of Vasilevskiy. “He just stole us one; there’s no doubt about that. They played well. We didn’t. And sometimes the wrong team wins because of the goaltender, and that was probably the case tonight.”

The Lightning has the sixth-best record in the NHL and has missed the best player in the NHL, Nikita Kucherov, all season. The good news is that Kucherov has begun skating as he plans his return to the Bolts sometime in January.

The Lightning has also been without Brayden Point the last three weeks. Point has an upper-body injury and will be out until sometime in January.

No other team could lose their top two offensive players and still be one of the top teams in the NHL. The depth on this Lightning team shows how good of a job Julien Brisbois has done putting this roster together.

The Bolts are also seeing contributions from some young players who have been in the organization for a few years.

The “kid line” of Taylor Raddysh, Ross Colton, and Boris Katchouk is finally starting to jell, and that is helping the Lightning with some scoring to keep them in the win column.

Taylor Raddysh had his first two goals of his NHL career Saturday against Boston, while Boris Katchouk had his first NHL goal Sunday night in Philadelphia. Katchouk talked after the game about his first NHL goal. “I may not have showed it, but it was really good. Our line’s been working really hard. I was fortunate. I had an easy tap-in, but it’s cool to cherish with those guys.”

Ryan McDonagh started the scoring for the Lightning. Pat Maroon, Taylor Raddysh, and Boris Katchok all contributed goals in a victory over the Flyers.

The Flyers suffered their eighth consecutive loss, which led to the team dismissing head coach Alain Vigneault.

This week, the Lightning now head across the border for three games against Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. The game Tuesday with the Canadiens is a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup final.

The Canadiens have gotten off to a slow start this season, going 6-17-3 as goaltender Carey Price has missed the entire season as he is in rehab for a substance abuse issue.

The Lightning has also recalled defensemen Fredrik Claesson from Syracuse as Erik Cernak will miss tonight’s with a lower-body injury from blocking a shot over the weekend.

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