Vasilevskiy Perfect as Lightning Rebound

by | Dec 6, 2023

Vasilevskiy Perfect as Lightning Rebound

by | Dec 6, 2023

TAMPA – Lightning defender Victor Hedman’s successful and intensive professional career saw him record his 1,000th game and the Tampa Bay Lightning rebounded from a tough loss to Dallas on Saturday by defeating the Stars, 4-0, in the rematch at Amalie Arena on Monday evening.

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who returned from back surgery in Tampa Bay’s 8-2 win over Carolina on Nov. 24, recorded the first shutout of the season and the 33rd shutout of his career in turning away 25 shots.

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper referenced Vasilevskiy’s tough outing on Saturday night as the Stars took an 8-1 win over Tampa Bay where he gave up six goals on 25 shots. Cooper relieved his star net-minder after the second period.

“First of all, he didn’t want to come out of the game the other night, and then for him to step in there and shut the door for the entire night, it’s why he’s the best in the world,” said Cooper.

Vasilevskiy had the surgery on Sept. 28 and has worked his way back onto the ice as Monday was his best overall outing of the five games since his return.

“It wasn’t a great feeling in the last game,” said Vasilevskiy. “I was just trying to turn the page from that and I tried to play my best game this season. It was such a big night for Victor and I thought the whole team had a great bounce-back game.”

Cooper reinforced the idea that Vasilevskiy has to be given time to step back in and be himself after he wasn’t able to work out and missed the summer and fall as well as missing the first 20 games of the season.

“As of now, he gets into a rhythm, you will hopefully see a more consistent game that he wants to play,” said Cooper. “I know he wasn’t happy with what happened the other night. It’s too good of a league. He has missed training camp.”

Vasilevskiy controlled the win over Dallas as he has controlled so many games in the past nine seasons. He earned the respect of his teammates once again, as well.

“He showed what he is and I can’t imagine being gone for that long and haven’t played a game in two months,” said Hedman. “He probably put a lot of pressure on himself too.”

How it Happened: Nikita Kucherov scored the Lightning’s first goal at 7:47 as Mikhail Sergachev found him in the middle of the ice in front of Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger. Kucherov caught the pass and fired by Oettinger’s right blocker for the 1-0 lead.

Kucherov then assisted Anthony Cirelli on his first of two goals.

Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak took the puck around the net, drew attention from Dallas defenders, and promptly put a pass on Cirelli’s blade for his fourth goal of the season at 18:21 in the first period.

Cirelli then added his second goal at 12:12 in the third in front of the Stars net off of an errant puck which came from Dallas defenseman Ryan Suter’s blade. Cirelli then lifted it over Oettinger’s shoulder for the 4-0 margin.

This followed a breakaway score by Lightning center Luke Glendening earlier in the third period. Glendening blocked a shot from Stars center Ty Dellandrea in the Lightning zone and then skated on the fly past Dallas winger Jamie Benn to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead at 3:05.

“It’s a humbling game; it’s a funny game; it’s a game where one night nothing goes in and one night everything goes in,” expressed Cooper. “I think it shows a lot of the typos of character.”

A Grand (of) Game(s): As the 4-0 win over the Stars was the 1,000th game of Victor Hedman’s career, the Lightning celebrated with a stellar video of Hedman’s career before the game. He met with this family for a moment on ice during the celebration.

Hedman is potentially the top defenseman in Lightning history and the emotion of the moment hit its highest level as his dad wrote him a letter that capitiated the many positive pathways throughout his hockey career.

“I read the letter Heddy’s Dad penned to him, so right away I an emotional wreck, a bit,” explained Cooper of his feelings. “It was super cool and this organization does such a great job of honoring people.”

Hedman, himself, expressed emotional thoughts about all that took place.

“Time flies,” said Hedman. “It’s super special and I told the guys that I don’t get emotional much when it comes to hockey. That was very special to have ‘Stammer’ do that presentation and then to read my dad’s letter is so special. I loved having my whole family on the ice.”

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