This past week has been highlighted by NHL goalie news, from the set of circumstances surrounding the 3-2 Maple Leafs win against a Panthers team that lost both starting and back-up goaltenders to injury to the incredible play of the Senators’ 27-year-old rookie Andrew Hammond.
Under the radar, the Tampa bay Lightning’s 20-year-old goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, had the chance to redeem himself after a string of poor performances last month. In his first game since February 22, Vasilevskiy made 28 out of 28 saves to record the first shutout of his NHL career, receiving first star of the game honors in the process.
— NHL (@NHL) March 5, 2015
While a shutout against the lowly Buffalo Sabres does not carry the same prestige as, say Ben Bishop’s shutout against the powerhouse Blackhawks, it is a step in the right direction.
Vasilevskiy has started in nine games thus far for the Lightning this season as well as being called in relief three additional times. While he has posted a 5-3-1 record in his starts with three wins out of his first four NHL starts, February had not been kind to the rookie from Tyumen, Russia. He posted a mediocre 0.896 save percentage in the six games he played in during the month.
Yet, he looked strong on the March 3 battle against the Sabres, stopping multiple shot attempts when neither he nor his defensemen could control or clear rebounds. One sequence early in the first period saw him push to his right after stopping two shots in the center of his crease, taking away an empty net chance for Matt Moulson, who had put up three points in his past two games previously. Also, midway through the third period, he made a save against the combined efforts of Buffalo’s Brian Gionta and Mikhail Grigorenko after losing his goalie stick.
In a position so reliant on confidence, Vasilevskiy can build off of his strong showing on Tuesday as the Lightning push for the top of the Atlantic Division.
Michelle Timian fell in love with hockey after watching a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 and has been following hockey ever since. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in Creative Writing and is more comfortable in front of a keyboard than on skates. She also blogs for the New York Rangers at blueshirtsunited.com.