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Vasilevskiy Shuts out Islanders in Playoff Clinching Game

Photo: Joe Tomasone, The Scrum Sports

Tonight is a potential playoff clinching game! With their victory over the Washington Capitals Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning are just two points away from clinching a playoff berth. One win away. And they have a chance to do that on home ice tonight. But their opponent tonight is no slouch. The New York Islanders have catapulted themselves into the top wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference after a relatively slow start to the season. They would also love a win tonight to help solidify their post-season aspirations. The Bolts and Isles are familiar foes- having faced one another in the Conference Finals in two of the last 3 seasons.  But how will the rivalry play out tonight? Will it be the clinching game for our beloved Bolts? Or will the Islanders hold them off?

A Potential Goaltender Duel

This playoff clinching game had the makings of goaltenders’ duel. Ilya Sorokin had the net for the Islanders. He has been stellar this season and is a big reason why his team has surged to the top wildcard spot. And for the home team, Andrei Vasilevskiy is between the pipes. He has been in top form of late, allowing just 3 total goals in his last 3 games and just 1 total over the last 2 games.

A Big First Point in a Clinching Game

The teams traded chances in the first period and both goalies looked ready for the challenge. The Bolts were the first team to break through as Mikhail Sergachev drilled home his 9th of the season. Ross Colton got the first assist and the second assist went to defenseman Darren Raddysh. Raddysh has been a welcome addition to the Lightning lineup. He’s played solid defense and shown a willingness to jump in on offensive rushes, too. Until tonight, he had no points to show for his efforts. He almost had a point Tuesday night against Carolina but it got taken away when replays showed that he had not actually touched the puck. But there was no taking it back tonight! Raddysh had his first NHL point. And he wasn’t done yet!

A Big First Goal

The Bolts carried their 1-0 in the second period. But they wanted a cushion. And they got one. From someone who’d been waiting a while for his first goal as a Bolt. Trade deadline acquisition Tanner Jeannot finally found the back of the net for his 6th goal of the season and first as a member of the Lightning at 3:42 of period 2. Jeannot had played very well over the past three games and there was a sense around the team that a goal was in his near future.

Big Boys Step Up as Goaltenders’ Duel Ends

Right around the halfway point of the second frame, the big boys stepped up. Brayden Point sprung Nikita Kucherov on a breakaway. Kucherov made no mistake, as he buried the puck to put the Lightning up 3-0.

Next up was the captain. Stamkos scored his 33rd of the season at the 11:45 mark to make it 4-0. Darren Raddysh got his second career NHL point with the assist. And that would end the goaltenders’ duel. Sorokin was pulled in favor of Semyon Varlamov. Vasilevskiy won the goaltenders’ duel tonight and the Bolts looked to have this clinching game exactly where they wanted it.

Shutting it Down in Clinching Game

The Lightning brought a 4-0 lead into the final frame. But they did give up 20 shots in the second period. The goal for the third period was simple. Shut things down. Don’t give the Islanders anything. Don’t let them back into the game. Avoid injuries. Mission accomplished. Mostly. The Bolts played a strong third period. They allowed just 8 shots. Vasilevskiy stood strong. And they even chipped in another goal as Brayden Point (inching ever closer to the big 50-mark) scored his 48th of the season on the power play. But about the “avoid injuries” goal? Mikhail Sergachev hobbled off the ice and straight to the dressing room with 7 and a half minutes remaining, as the Bolts’ power play began. Fans will anxiously await an update on his condition.

The Lightning sealed their 5-0 victory. Vasilevskiy earned his second shutout in the last 3 games. The Bolts will head to the playoffs for the 6th straight season.

3 Stars

1- Andrei Vasilevskiy- stopped all 38 Islander shots

2- Darren Raddysh- 2 assists for first career NHL points

3- Tanner Jeannot- first goal as a Bolt

Up Next

The Bolts head to New York for back-to-back games against the Rangers and then these Islanders. Wednesday night (April 5th), they face off against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Puck drops at 7:30pm.




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