TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was brilliant in the Bolts’ series-clinching Game 4 win against in-state rival Florida on Monday night.
“Big Cat” stopped all 49 shots he faced helping Tampa Bay beat the Panthers 2-0 to finish off a four-game sweep in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s pretty cool to play with a player that will go down as the best goalies that have ever played the game,” Lightning forward Alex Killorn said.
That was Vasilevskiy’s sixth series-clinching shutout, the most of any goalie of all time.
“There he was, Vasy,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos added. “Like he always was in these big games.”
“That’s how you gauge players on how they perform in big-time games,” Killorn said. “He’s been nothing but tremendous.”
The high-scoring Panthers averaged an NHL best four goals per game during the regular season. But Vasilevskiy and a Tampa Bay defense that blocked 77 shots in the series, held the Cats to three goals total in four games.
“The whole series is constant blocked shots, sacrifices, the boys literally breaking bones to stop the puck,” Vasilevskiy said. “Such a great effort by everybody on our team. It’s not just me. I’m just trying to do my job.”
Vasilevskiy began this postseason by allowing three or more goals in the first six games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But head coach Jon Cooper said the team’s confidence in Vasy never wavered.
“I’m not so sure there’s much more I can say about him,” Cooper said. “It’s funny how the playoffs are five games into the Toronto series and you’re asking all these questions about what’s wrong with Vasilevsky. I’m shocked.”
“My job is to give the boys a chance to win,” Vasilevskiy said. “We’ve done a pretty good job doing that.”
The Lightning advance to the Eastern Conference Final for a third straight season.