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Who was that guy in goal for the Lightning?


Who was that guy in goal for the Lightning?

News, notes and quotes as the Tampa Bay Lightning savor Saturday night’s 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and head to Chicago with the Stanley Cup Final knotted at one win apiece:

How do you spell relief: He only played 9:13 in relief of starter Ben Bishop, but rookie Lightning backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all five shots he faced in a pair of stints during the third period (from 7:17 to 8:49 and from 12:19 to the end of regulation) to pick up the win. Vasilevskiy was credited as the game-winning goaltender because he was on the ice when Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison scored the game-winning goal at 8:49 of the third period.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Vasilevskiy became the first goaltender to post a Stanley Cup Final victory in a relief role since Pittsburgh's Frank Pietrangelo made 15 saves in 40 minutes to lead the Penguins to a 6-4 win over the Minnesota North Stars in Game 5 in 1991.

Selected 19th overall by the Lightning in the 2012 NHL draft, the 20-year-old native of Tyumen, Russia entered Game 2 having made two relief appearances during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in blowout losses to the Rangers (7-3 on May 26) and Canadiens (6-2 on May 7). Vasilevskiy also became the first goaltender to win his first career playoff game in relief in the Stanley Cup Final since April 7, 1928, when Lester Patrick – the coach of the Rangers – came in to backstop the team to a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2 against the Montreal Maroons at Montreal.

The last goaltender to earn his first career playoff win in the Stanley Cup Final – as a starter – was Jussi Markkanen, who achieved the feat with the Oilers on June 10, 2006 in Game 3 against Carolina (24 saves in a 2-1 win).

Conn Smythe?: Tampa forward Tyler Johnson set a franchise record with his 13th goal of the playoffs, surpassing Ruslan Fedotenko and current Blackhawks forward Brad Richards, each of whom tallied 12 goals for the Lightning during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Triple threat: The Lightning's "Triplets" line of Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat combined for three points in Game 2 and have accounted for half of the Bolts’ offense in the playoffs with 30 points. Johnson has 13 goals and 9 assists for 22 points; Kucherov has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points; and Palat has 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points. Toss in Steven Stamkos (7-10-17) and Alex Killorn (8-9-17) and the quintet has accounted for three-quarters of Tampa’s 60 goals this postseason (45 of 60).

Century mark for Toews: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews recorded the 100th playoff point of his NHL career (38-62-100 in 113 GP) by earning an assist on the goal by Brent Seabrook that tied the game 3-3 at 3:38 of the third period. Toews is the
92nd player in NHL history and 14th active skater to reach the milestone. Four of the 14 active NHLers with at least 100 playoff points play for the Blackhawks -- Toews, Marian Hossa (49-92-141), Patrick Kane (47-64-111) and Brad Richards (35-66-101).

Toews, who has spent his entire career with the Blackhawks, became the sixth player in franchise history to reach the 100-point milestone in the
postseason. The others: Stan Mikita (155), Denis Savard (131), Bobby Hull (116), Kane (111) and Steve Larmer (107).

Good company: Brent Seabrook netted his seventh goal of the post-season, setting a Blackhawks record for goals by a defenseman in one playoff season. He shared the previous record of six with Chris Chelios, who set the mark in 1992.

Seabrook, who has spent his entire career with the Blackhawks, also equaled a franchise record for career playoff goals by a defenseman (19). He can pass Bob
Murray and Doug Wilson with another goal.

RemarQable: Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final marked the 200th playoff game behind the bench for Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville (112-88). Only two other
head coaches in NHL history have reached the milestone: Scotty Bowman (353) and Al Arbour (209). Quenneville also ranks third behind Bowman (223) and Arbour (123) for the most playoff wins by a head coach in NHL history.

By the numbers: Teams winning Game 2 have gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup 74.7 percent of the time since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939 (56-of-75 series), including nine of the past 12 occasions.

The Lightning improved to 4-0 in Game 2s during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, outscoring opponents 21-8 in those contests. The Blackhawks fell to 2-2.

Seven of the past nine games between the Lightning and Blackhawks have been decided by one goal dating to March 9, 2011.

More than half of the games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs (52 of 85, 61.2 percent) have been tied or within one goal entering the final five minutes of regulation, including Game 2.

More than one-third of the games this postseason have featured a comeback win (31 of 85, 36.5 percent), including Game 2.

The Lightning improved to 9-1 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when leading after two periods. Tampa Bay had suffered its first playoff loss in such a scenario in Game 1 of the Final.

The Lightning improved to 10-1 when scoring the first goal during the playoffs, also having suffered their first playoff loss under such a scenario in Game 1 of the Final.

The Lightning improved to 8-1 following a loss in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There will not be a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final for the 16th consecutive season. The last team to win in four games was the 1997-98 Red Wings, who swept the Caps in four games. The Red Wings also swept the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997.

They said it:

“I know we have two unbelievably capable goaltenders. When Bish had to leave, there wasn't an ounce of stress on anybody on our bench, including myself.  I mean, the kid proved it when he went in.  He was great.” – Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Vasilevskiy

“Well, I thought we were a lot more aggressive today than we were in Game 1.  I thought Game 1 we were a little bit hesitant making plays.”  - Lightning forward Tyler Johnson 

“We get to go home, get excited, play in our building.  I'm sure everybody will be loud and excited about us coming back.” – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville


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The Caps will win Game 6 if they win, or at least survive, the first period

The Caps will win Game 6 if they win, or at least survive, the first period

The last three games have been pretty awesome if you're a Caps fan. For one minute, however, let's consider what it must feel like for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus has seen a 0-2 series lead evaporate, they have lost both of their home games and now they face elimination after three straight losses including two overtime games and in two of those games, the Blue Jackets outplayed the Caps.

Oh, and head coach John Tortorella kinda, sorta guaranteed the Blue Jackets would force a Game 7.

As the series shifts back to Ohio for Game 6 on Monday, do you think the Blue Jackets may be a tad motivated when they take the ice in front of their home fans?

"We’ve got a chance in front of our home crowd to push this thing to seven games and we’re excited about it," Columbus forward Matt Calvert said Sunday. "... Got home last night and I was here a little earlier, got a chance to watch the news and they’re interviewing fans and how they’re pumped up, already saying it’s going to Game 7, so I can’t wait. The atmosphere’s going to be great. I know they’re going to give an all-out effort and so are we.”

In the third period of Game 5, the enormity of their situation began to set in for Columbus. Down 3-2 and facing their third straight loss, the Blue Jackets made a tremendous push to try to win the game. They tied the score at 3 early in the period and ultimately outshot Washington 16-1. If not for the tremendous effort of Braden Holtby in net to force overtime, the roles of this series could easily be reversed with Washington facing elimination in Game 6.

Now imagine that effort, plus the home crowd plus the desperation of a team facing elimination. An early lead for the Jackets could start a snowball effect in which their momentum and the crowd carry them through the rest of the game. But the longer the Caps can survive, the more doubt will begin to creep into Columbus, the antsier the fans will become and the more confident Washington will play.

The Caps better be ready.

The good news for Washington is that its been here before. Just last season, the Caps went to Toronto in Game 6 with an opportunity to close out the Maple Leafs. Toronto outshot Washington 14-10 in the first period, but they could not get the early goal and the game was scoreless through the first 20 minutes. Auston Matthews scored in the third period to break a scoreless tie, but Marcus Johansson scored five minutes later and then again in overtime to close out the series.

After experiencing last year's series in Toronto, the Caps know what they are going to be up against in Columbus.

"It's the toughest game to win because the other team is desperate," head coach Barry Trotz said Sunday on a conference call with the media. "Their backs are against the wall. They're there. They're going to give their absolute max effort tomorrow, and we've got to make sure that we have a max effort. If we do that, then we have a chance to win in Columbus."


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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do


NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

There are only two series left in the first round that have yet to be decided. The Caps just so happen to be playing in one of those series.

After falling into a 0-2 hole to start, Washington has rattled off three straight wins and now sits just one away from putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets and advancing to the second round.

Should the Capitals advance, they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third consecutive season.


The Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in Game 6. Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the effort proving once and for all that yes, goaltending is important in the playoffs. Head coach Mike Sullivan has still yet to lose a playoff series as the head coach of Pittsburgh as he led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons.

In the Atlantic, the Tampa Bay Lightning await the winner of the Boston Bruins - Toronto Maple Leafs series after dispatching the New Jersey Devils in five games. After a strong regular season, the Maple Leafs looked poised to take the next step, but Auston Matthews has only two points in five games and Toronto faces elimination at the hands of the Bruins Monday in Game 5.


All four series in the West, meanwhile, have already been decided. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks managed four-game sweeps in the first round and will face one another in the second  The miraculous season of the Golden Knights continues and it would be hard to argue at this point that they are not legitimate Stanly Cup contenders considering all they have accomplished in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Wins by the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets now sets up a second-round battle between the top two teams in the league from the regular season.