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Vasilevskiy can’t bail out porous defense despite spectacular effort as Lightning lose in shootout

They’ve gotta play better.

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered Thursday night’s game at home with a 6-4-0 record taking on the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2-1 record. The Lightning debuted their Reverse Retro jerseys based on the old Storm Alternate jerseys. With a primarily white theme to the Reverse Retro jerseys, the Carolina Hurricanes brought their home black and red jerseys to the game.

The Lightning did not change their line up from the Tuesday night (sloppy) win against the Ottawa Senators with Victor Hedman remaining out of the line up day-to-day with an upper body injury.

First Period

The Lightning opened up the first period with the Pierre-Edouard Bellemare line, backed by Mikhail Sergachev, Nick Perbix, and Andrei Vasilevskiy in net. The Lightning ended up with the first penalty of the game as the team was called for too many men on the ice 6:24 into the period. The Canes helped force that penalty as the Lightning turned the puck over in the neutral zone and a Canes player put the puck back into the area where the Lightning defense were changing.

The first penalty kill was OK, but not outstanding. However, five seconds after it ended, the Canes won a puck battle on the wall and got the puck out to the slot for Seth Jarvis who got a quick shot off. The puck ticked off Vasilevskiy’s arm and into the net for the first goal of the game to put the Hurricanes up 1-0.

The Lightning also took the second penalty of the game when Erik Cernak was called for roughing against Andrei Svechnikov. The Lightning started the penalty kill off poorly with a clearing attempt hitting off a Canes player and staying in the zone. That resulted in the Canes keeping the puck in the zone for most of the first half of the penalty before the Lightning got the clear. The Lightning did better in killing off the rest of the penalty and went into the first intermission down 1-0.

Second Period

The Lightning got their first power play of the game 2:48 into the first period. Haydn Fleury was jumping up into the rush and got tripped by Jalen Chatfield as the pass to the back post was getting to him. During the delayed call, Chatfield then high sticked Haydn Fleury which caused a scrum. Chatfield was the only player to go to the box and resulted in a four minute power play.

The Lightning thought they scored with Steven Stamkos winning a puck battle and finding Nikita Kucherov on the far side of the ice all alone. Instead of shooting, Kucherov put the puck back to the far post for Namestnikov charging out of the corner. The first shot hit the side of the net, but then went in off of Namestnikov’s skate and into the net. After a review, the referees determined that there was a “distinct kicking motion” on the play that took the goal off the board.

I’ve seen the same kind of puck deflected off a skate called a good call. But after thinking about it, I realized what the difference was. If it goes off the outside of the skate, it’s not a kicking motion. If it goes off the inside of the skate, it’s a distinct kicking motion. Since it went off the inside of his skate, they determined he “kicked” the puck. I disagree with that interpretation of the rule, but it seems to be the one the NHL has settled on.

The Lightning got back to work on the power play after Namestnikov’s goal was taken off the board. Mikhail Sergachev threw a puck towards the net from the point that looked like it was going wide. Ross Colton got his stick on the puck and redirected it back towards the net and in to score the power play goal in the second half of the four minute power play to tie the game up at 1-1.

Colton power play goal assisted by Sergachev and Hagel.

The Lightning picked up some momentum from the power play and followed it up a few minutes later with another goal. Nick Paul forced a turnover in the neutral zone and gave the puck to Stamkos. While Stamkos came down the right wing, Paul drove the net and out muscled the Canes defenseman to get his stick down and re-direct Stamkos’ shot-pass up and over the pad to give the Lightning a 2-1 game.

Paul goal assisted by Stamkos.

The Lightning followed up their 2nd goal of the game by taking two penalties. The Lightning were able to kill off the first one, but Martin Necas was able to squeak a shot between the arm and body of Vasilevskiy through a screen on their second consecutive power play opportunity to tie the game up at 2-2.

The fireworks of the second period continued in the last two minutes. Jalen Chatfield cross checked Ross Colton to the ice to take the first penalty. Then as the players were skating towards the benches, Jordan Martinook sought revenge for the late hit Colton had delivered to him, by spearing Colton in the place that hurts when it gets hit with a stick. The referees initially called a major penalty, but reviewed and downgraded it to a minor for slashing.

The Lightning took their five forward unit to the five-on-three power play and had good puck movement. Much more sure than their five-on-three the other night against the Ottawa Senators. Kucherov with the puck at the top of the circles made a wrist shot that found it’s way through a screening Corey Perry and to the back of the net for the 3-2 lead.

Kucherov power play goal assisted by Killorn and Point.

Third Period

The Lightning opened up the third period with 25 seconds of carryover power play from the previous period.

The third period started off mostly even, but Carolina eventually started tipping things towards the Lightning net more and more as the period went on. Corey Perry took a tripping call 7:41 into the period, but the Lightning managed to kill off the penalty.

Just over twelve minutes into the period, Vladislav Namestnikov made a great move across the front of the net. He couldn’t bury the chance, but drew a tripping call to send the Lightning to the power play with a chance to stretch the lead. Unfortunately, the Lightning gave up a 3-on-2 shorthanded rush and Brady Skjei was able to find a hole to fit the puck through past Vasilevskiy to tie the game up at 3-3.

The Canes continued to control the puck for most of the rest of the period, putting serious pressure onto the Lightning. Vasilevskiy kept things tight and kept the puck out of the net, despite some sometimes suspect play by the skaters in front of him to send the game into overtime.


The Lightning got a couple of good chances in the first couple minutes of the overtime period with Sergachev and Kucherov both getting nice shots off. But it was the Canes that had the better chances, and then got an even better chance when Point was called for slashing to put the Lightning on a four-on-three penalty kill.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Erik Cernak in particular were spectacular during the penalty kill. Bellemare was confidently directing traffic while Vasilevskiy made the saves when the Canes did find a lane to shoot the puck. The last part of the penalty was a bit more chaotic, but the Lightning killed it off. They didn’t generate much else after Point came out of the box. Nick Perbix got a shift late while it was still four-on-four and drew a slashing penalty, but because his stick was slashed out of his hands, he couldn’t advance the puck up the ice and the Canes didn’t touch the puck, so the Lightning didn’t get a power play chance of their own, though it would have only been for at most 10 seconds to finish the overtime period.

On to the shootout.


Neither team scored in the first three rounds with Stamkos, Kucherov, and Point all failing to score. Ross Colton was the fourth skater out for the Lightning and was able to put the puck into the net off the post, giving Vasilevskiy a chance to close it out. Vasilevskiy couldn’t though, with a fake and a backhand shot finding it’s way under the bar to continue the shootout. Hagel and Perry then went on to miss in the fifth and sixth round of the shootout. Sebastian Aho finished out the game tucking it in just past the pad of Vasilevskiy to give the Hurricanes the 4-3 victory in the shootout.


The Lightning were incredibly lucky to get a point out of this game. They failed to find consistent pressure at 5v5 and relied on scoring two power play goals to even be in the game to go with Paul’s 5v5 goal. At 5v5, the Lightning were outshot 57-33 and Carolina held a 2.68 to 1.66 xGF edge in the game. The second period was oddly the best for the Lightning as they found a way to be more dangerous and defend better against the Canes, but slid back to their first period woes in the third period.

While it may not feel like it since he gave up three goals, including the shorthander, and failed to close things out in the shootout, but Vasilevskiy was the reason the Lightning even got a point out of the game. In all situations, the Canes generated 5.28 xGF. And Vasilevskiy allowed three. He had a great game. The skaters didn’t.

Due to the porous defense in front of him, Vasilevskiy nearly set a new career high in shots against. He faced 56 shots, just two less than his franchise record 58 shots from the 2018-19 season. With 53 saves he finished just behind his own record for most saves in a game with 54, which was from the 58 shots against game.

I know that Victor Hedman is out of the line up, but as a team, they have to play better. They can’t be playing like this against good teams and expecting their power play and Vasilevskiy to carry them to two points. They have to find a way to create more consistent pressure at even strength, and finish those opportunities. They’re not getting it done there.

We’ll try again on Saturday...