Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 38-Save Performance Lifts Lightning Over Canadiens

MONTREAL — Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 38 shots in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens of Thursday night for Tampa Bay’s fifth straight victory.

Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning (22-13-4) as Vasilevskiy improved to 10-1-2 all-time against Montreal.

Defenceman Jeff Petry had the lone goal for the Canadiens (18-17-6), who have dropped four games in a row. Carey Price made 21 saves in Montreal’s return home from a seven-game road trip.

Tampa Bay improved to 15-2-0 against Atlantic-division opponents this season.

The game’s only goals came in the first period.

It took 42 seconds for the Lightning to score on their very first shot on goal. Blue-liner Erik Cernak threw the puck on net and Cirelli deflected it past Price. Price has conceded 11 goals in his past two starts, losses to Tampa and Florida.

Anthony Cirelli, Tampa Bay Lightning
Anthony Cirelli, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Petry levelled the score for Montreal at 5:48 as a penalty to the Bolts expired. The defenceman waited patiently for Alex Killorn to exit the shooting lane before firing a perfectly placed shot from the blue line into the top corner of the net.

Tampa made it 2-1 less than three minutes later. Price misplayed the puck behind his goal and turned it over to Brayden Point, who fed Kucherov in front for his 14th of the season.

Vasilevskiy did his part to keep the Habs at bay. The Lightning goaltender denied Max Domi with the pad midway through the first before flashing the leather on rookie Nick Suzuki late in the period.

Vasilevskiy stopped another 14 shots in the second and 13 in the third for his seventh straight win against Montreal. Tampa players blocked an additional 21 shots in the game.

Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Canadiens lacked firepower without Brendan Gallagher, out indefinitely with a concussion sustained in Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat in Carolina. Gallagher missed his first game since February 2017, snapping a streak of 229 starts.

The recently recalled Dale Weise made his season debut in Gallagher’s absence while forward Nick Cousins was promoted to the first line. Cousins had five shots on goal.

The Canadiens made two trades prior to puck drop.

Montreal acquired left-shooting defenceman Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2020 fourth-round pick. The Canadiens also traded defenceman Mike Reilly to the Ottawa Senators for forward Andrew Sturtz and a 2021 fifth-round pick.


Petry has nine points in his past six games. … The Lightning defeated Montreal 5-4 in Tampa Bay last Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2020.

Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press