Vasilevskiy Records His First Shutout Of The Season As The Lighting Top Arizona For Their Ninth Straight Win

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy eyes a shot as defenseman Mikhail Sergachev keeps Arizona Coyotes right wing Conor Garland (83) from a rebound during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TAMPA — This is getting fun, isn’t it?

Forty-eight hours after coming home and registering a 9-2 win over Vancouver in which Carter Verhaeghe became the fourth Lightning rookie to record a hat trick, Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his first shutout of the season and Nikita Kucherov scored twice in a 4-0 win over Arizona.

The victory on Thursday night at Amalie Arena was the Lightning’s ninth in a row. They are 6-0-1 in their last seven on home ice.

What was not fun was the sight of Ondrej Palat leaving the game at 12:44 of the third period and favoring his right knee after taking a hit from Taylor Hall, who was called for interference.

In the second period, Patrick Maroon left and did not return after taking an unpenalized Carl Soderberg elbow to the head. Following the game coach Jon Cooper said he did not think either injury was serious.

The Lightning got all they needed in the opening period when they scored twice on goals by Alex Killorn and Mikhail Sergachev.

Killorn, whose goal Tuesday night against the Canucks snapped a 2-2 tie and opened the floodgates, opened the scoring versus the Coyotes when, driving to the net, he put home the rebound of a Maroon shot.

The goal was Kilorn’s 18th of the season, one shy of his career high set in 2016-17.

“He’s been doing it all year for us and has been such a big player for our team because he is on the powerplay and penalty kill,” said Cooper. “He gets big minutes with our team and to have that offensive side come out, I
know sure makes him feel good and it’s good for our team.”

Kucherov scored his goals within 2:37 of the second period to complete the scoring.

The Lightning have allowed only two third-period goals during the win streak. Thursday night underscored the effort they have been getting at both ends of the ice.

“We’ve been on this streak for a reason, because we are playing well and playing the right way,” said Steven Stamkos, who assisted on both Kucherov goals. “I thought tonight might have been our best overall performance in terms of playing the right way all over the ice.”

Vasilevskiy, who has a personal seven-game win streak, made 25 saves in recording his first shutout of the season and 19th of his career.

“It means a lot,” said Vasilevskiy of the shutout. “We played well the whole game, for all 60 minutes. We have had some games where I could have had a shutout, but allowed a late goal. But tonight we played perfectly and the whole team deserves it.”

Starting Saturday night in Philadelphia, the Lightning play nine of their next 10 on the road. The next home game, the final one of the month, is next Tuesday against Los Angeles.

Tom Layberger is also a contributing writer for forbes.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Tom Layberger has been a sports writer, reporter and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Comcast, NBC and The Topps Company. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and globalsportmatters.com. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a USF grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.