NHL Game Night: 1-2-18 Lightning at Maple Leafs

Leafs trampled by kittens.


Andrei Vasilevskiy raised the forcefields for a 30 save shutout. That's Vasilevskiy's second straight shutout and his third in the past four starts. He needed to be stellar tonight in a road game where the team in front of him didn't quite seem to have its A game, and he was magnificent.

First Period

Second Period
12:00 TB Paquette (1), (Kunitz)
16:54 TB Killorn (5), (Sergachev, Gourde)

Third Period

Vasilevskiy, Alex Killorn, and Mikhail Sergachev were the game's three stars.

Kind of a strange game. The possession numbers favored the Lightning by a decent margin as they won shots on goal and had a slight edge in the volume of shots that were blocked/missed. With that said, I thought Toronto played a very patient and very structured game and were very dangerous on the counter where the Lightning gave up a lot of odd man chances, particularly in the Second Period. The difference, ultimately, was Andrei Vasilevskiy, who now inhabits his own wing in Mitch Marner's mansion of nightmares after tonight. Some in Vegas are making Vasilevskiy the 2:1 favorite to win the Vezina Trophy now. Let me remind you all: he's 23. If he stays healthy, we may all be bearing witness to the beginning of one of the legendary careers for a goaltender in the sport... and an X-factor that may well make the Lightning one of the Cup favorites for at least the next half decade.

This game is not without its cautionary tales, though. Toronto and some of the faster teams in the league have identified that the Lightning's right defense are a little slow-footed. Moving forward, Yzerman has the more-difficult-than-it-looks task of improving the team's right side defense, finding a faceoff ace, and also finding another ace penalty killer to address the team's weaknesses WITHOUT harming the team chemistry, which is obviously amazing at the moment.

The Lightning have now reached 60 points through 39 games. What that means is that the Lightning are now a full 10-game segment's worth of points (12) ahead of the minimum pace they need to be at to make the playoffs with one more game remaining in this segment. Even if they didn't snag a point in their last contest, they'd have to only play .450 hockey the rest of the way to punch their ticket to the postseason. Perhaps this is why some fancy stats models now give the Lightning a 100% chance of making the playoffs?

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 in 14:23. He was also 50% on 6 draws.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:11. Big minutes for the Ontario boy playing in the ACC.

Sergachev had a helper and was +1 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots in 17:27.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.