After five consecutive one goal games of which they lost four, the Tampa Bay Lightningleft nothing to chance tonight putting a 7-1 drumming on the San Jose Sharks. This was a classic Lightning performance as they played well enough in terms of shot metrics but augmented that with good finishing and good goaltending. You may have read the article on Friday where we highlighted Andrei Vasilevskiy’s struggles as the primary reason for the team’s slow start. He was a big part of this victory posting one of his best games of the season allowing just the one goal on 38 shots.
Tyler Johnson opened the scoring in the first period giving the Lightning the lead. Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos joined the party in the second period giving the Lightning a 3-0 lead. Victor Hedman and Johnson again pushed the lead all the way to 5-0 in the third. Marc Edouard Vlasic broke up the shutout to cut the lead to 5-1 but Stamkos got it back a couple minutes later to make it 6-1. And in a perfect cap to a fun night, Carter Verhaeghe scored his first NHL goal to make it 7-1 and send everyone home in a great mood.
This wasn’t a dominant game in terms of shot metrics. But the Lightning did have an advantage both at 5v5 and in all situations.
Cathartic. That’s the word I would use for this one. After so many losses in so many close games, a blowout on a Saturday was just what the doctor ordered. This wasn’t a perfect game. The coaches still have plenty of things they can point to on video, particularly defensively, that need to be cleaned up.
But seeing Vasilevskiy do his thing in the face of so many shots was encouraging. And if there’s a such thing as a quiet 37 saves, this was it. He wasn’t scrambling or making outrageous athletic plays to keep the puck out of the net. Instead, he was well positioned and made it look easy for much of the night.
And obviously, the offense did its part. Carter Verhaeghe in particular made a case that he belongs in the lineup. And it wasn’t just the goal. He had the primary assist on the first goal and had three points in total. He wasn’t great in terms of play driving tonight but he’s been strong in that area all season. If that game wasn’t enough to get him more minutes, I don’t know what would be.
Tyler Johnson’s goal to make it 1-0
Stamkos filthy wrister to make it 3-0
Verhaeghe’s first NHL goal