Andrei Vasilevskiy stops everything, Lightning top Blues to take sole possession of NHL points lead
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy erased the memory of a bad outing in St. Louis with one solid performance.
Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point scored and the Lightning beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Tuesday night in a matchup of the NHL’s top two teams.
Tyler Johnson added an empty netter as Tampa Bay (22-6-2) earned its fifth straight win. It was Vasilevskiy’s third shutout of the season and the seventh of his career.
The 23-year-old Vasilevskiy gave up four goals on 16 shots and was pulled from a 5-4 loss at St. Louis last December.
“It’s a pretty good feeling to win here especially after last year I played half a game and gave up four goals,” Vasilevskiy said. “It wasn’t my best game. But as I say, the guys played pretty well and we all deserved the shutout.”
Jake Allen made 22 saves for St. Louis, which had won four in a row. The Blues (21-9-2) were shut out for the third time at home this season.
“They’re definitely the best team in the West,” Vasilevskiy said. “It was a tough challenge for us but the guys played pretty well in front of me. Overall, I thought we played well. I played my game, too.”
Point put Tampa Bay in front when he lifted in a rebound of his own shot at 19:15 of the first period. From the side of the net, Johnson fed Point in the slot. His shot hit the crossbar and caromed to the right. Point alertly followed the puck and extended his point streak to five games, setting a career high.
Vasilevskiy had several nice saves, turning away Vladimir Tarasenko on a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second period. Vasilevskiy leads the league in wins with 20, and Allen is second with 17.
He is just the sixth goalie in NHL history to reach the 20-win mark in his first 25 appearances in a season.
“I didn’t think we made it hard enough on Vasilevskiy,” Allen said. “He’s been the best goalie in the league this year and it’s not even really close. We put pucks on net but it was pretty easy for him.”
The Lightning got to Allen again when Kucherov scored on a wrist shot at 15:37 of the final period. It was his 21st goal of the season.
“We generated opportunities but obviously there’s some nights where the goalie deserves some credit,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “That guy’s pretty good. That’s a good team we played tonight. I thought we gave ourselves a good chance. We didn’t finish, we didn’t capitalize, but if we keep playing like that then we will get good results.
“This is not a night where you come in here and beat people up. It was a good effort but it wasn’t enough. We’ll find a way to get better.”
Tampa Bay earned its first sweep of a multigame season series against St. Louis in franchise history. The Lightning beat the visiting Blues 2-1 on Oct. 14.
“I’ll be honest. This is my fifth year with the team and I don’t I ever remember winning in this building so it was finally nice to win here,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I coached junior here we had a lot of success in junior but just haven’t had it in the NHL coming to this building so definitely this is nice especially against a team that has the most points in the Western Conference so it’s a big confidence builder for us.”
NOTES: The Blues placed captain Alex Pietrangelo on injured reserve and recalled fellow defenseman Jordan Schmaltz from the minors. Pietrangelo, who is nursing a lower-body injury, has seven goals and 16 assists in 30 games this season. Schmaltz was selected by St. Louis with the 25th overall pick of the 2012 draft. … Lightning D Braydon Coburn missed his fifth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
Lightning: Visit Arizona on Thursday.
Blues: Host Anaheim on Thursday.