Shootouts. Hate 'em or love 'em, they're here to stay in the NHL and several times a year they're the difference between picking up one point or two in the standings, points that count just as much as winning a game 7-0 in regulation.
When it comes to stopping the other team in the shootout, the Lightning are, as in so many areas, fortunate enough to have the league's best in Andrei Vasilevskiy. As a Lightning fan watching the games, you're probably aware that Vasy is outstanding in the shootout. But just how much so? Individual shootout stats aren't widely publicized; the only time you see them on a TV graphic is when a shooter is about to take a shot but you seldom see the goalie's numbers.
So just how good is Vasy in the shootout? First, some perspective: coming into this season the conversion rate for shootouts over the last six seasons was 31.7%, meaning the average goalie has a shootout save percentage of .683. Vasy? Even after allowing 2 goals in 4 shots in last night's shootout against the Kings (more on that in a bit), his career numbers in the shootout are 45 saves in 53 attempts, for a save percentage of .849. This isn't just good - it's the best shootout save percentage in NHL history for any goalie who's faced 50 or more attempts in his career. And it's not even close when it comes to #2 - former journeyman Brent Johnson is miles behind at .764, followed by a couple of current NHLers. Thomas Griess of the Islanders is at .763 and the Blues' Jake Allen is at .754. You can view the complete career list here.
That's what made Monday night's shootout against the Kings so shocking with the sight of Vasy allowing shootout goals on consecutive shots. Having allowed only eight in his career including those two, it's probably no surprise that it's the first time that's happened. In fact, Vasy has only allowed two shootout goals in a shootout once before - and that was back on November 3, 2016 against the Bruins. And that was a shootout that went ten rounds. His all-time shootout record is 12-4, and aside from that game against the Bruins which he lost, all of his other 3 losses in the shootout came where his teammates couldn't score and he lost 1-0. Most recently against the Golden Knights three weeks ago.
In fact Vasy is so good in the shootout that before the Lightning's penalty kill improved this season, the team would have been better off facing a penalty shot than going two minutes with a man down. Even this season with the #2 PK in the league their rate of .857 is only marginally better than Vasy's career shootout percentage of .849. There is no other goalie in the league one can say this about, and it's just another facet of his game to go with his incredible athletic shot-stopping ability and overall Vezina-caliber play.