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Vasilevskiy shines in return, Lightning beat Maple Leafs 4-1
December 14, 2018
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Andrei Vasilevskiy delivered a record-setting performance after sitting out a month.
Tampa Bay’s goalie made a career-high 48 saves in his return from a broken left foot and the Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday night in a matchup of the NHL’s top two teams.
“Actually (felt) pretty good,” Vasilevskiy said. “Tried to survive the first period, then the second, too.”
Vasilevskiy tied the team record for saves in a game established by Ben Bishop against Carolina on Jan. 19, 2014.
“He was the best player on the ice for us by a country mile,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson both scored for Tampa Bay during the final 36 seconds of the second period to make it 4-1. Vasilevskiy, who missed the previous 14 games, stopped all 23 shots he faced in the period.
“That was a pretty good test for us,” Vasilevskiy said. “Guys scored important goals at the end of the second.”
Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov also had goals for the Lightning (25-7-1), who have won eight in a row and lead Toronto by eight points in the Atlantic Division. The franchise record is a nine-game winning streak in 2016.
Tampa Bay scored three times on 12 shots in the second. Killorn put home a backhand with 35.8 seconds left, and Johnson converted from the slot with 1.7 seconds to go.
Toronto got a goal from Kasperi Kapanen, and Frederik Andersen stopped 17 shots. The Maple Leafs have lost three of four (1-2-1) after a five-game winning streak.
The Leafs went 0 for 6 on the power play.
“We did everything but put the puck in the back of the net,” Toronto center John Tavares said. “I don’t think you want to hang your head. I think you’re obviously disappointed in the result. We have high expectations for ourselves. It’s a long season. We’ll see these guys again.”
Vasilevskiy got his glove on Patrick Marleau’s point-blank chance and then trapped the loose puck with his pad early in the third.
The Maple Leafs hit the crossbar or post three times in the first and Vasilevskiy made a left pad save on Tavares’ in-close backhand late in the period.
Nazem Kadri had a nifty deflection stopped by Vasilevskiy and also hit the post during a power play midway through the second.
“He played unbelievable,” Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews said. “I thought we played well. We had a ton of chances. I think sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat and move forward.”
Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead on Kucherov’s power-play goal at 5:31 of the second that required a video review. A no-goal call on the ice was overturned when officials determined Andersen’s glove save came behind the goal line.
Kucherov also had an assist and has six goals and 29 points over the last 15 games.
Kapanen put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 after stealing an errant pass into the slot by Kucherov 5:26 into the game.
Cirelli tied it on his third short-handed goal at 8:20 of the first.
NOTES: Mitchell Marner (seven), Tavares (six) and Kadri (six) combined for 19 shots. ... Toronto (15-1-1) lost for the first time in regulation when scoring first. ... Marleau played in his 738th consecutive regular-season game and passed Jay Bouwmeester for the seventh-longest streak in NHL history. ... Toronto LW Zach Hyman served the second of a two-game suspension for a hit on Boston D Charlie McAvoy on Saturday. ... Tampa Bay RW Mathieu Joseph sat out with a lower-body injury.
Maple Leafs: Play at Florida on Saturday.
Lightning: Start a four-game trip Sunday in Winnipeg.