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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Last Second Overtime Heroics Mask Ugly Performance

March 5, 2021, 12:38 AM ET [5 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Good teams find a way to win, even when they’re not at their best. That was the name of the game for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, as they found a way to eek out a 3-2 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Here are tonight’s thumbs:

Thumbs Up: The Last Second Hero
There’s cutting it close, and then there’s cutting it close. Alex Killorn’s overtime winner, which came with quite literally as little time possible left on the clock in the extra frame, has to be the closest thing to a “buzzer beater” that the National Hockey League has ever seen:

Strive to be as calm in your daily life as Victor Hedman was when he chose to take a little skate before firing this puck towards the net with only a handful of seconds left.

Thumbs Up: The Captain’s Slick Hands
Thanks to his spectacular goal tonight, Steven Stamkos now has 11 goals and 21 points through 19 games this season. As much as he’s known for his patented bombs from the faceoff circle, the Captain proved that he can make things happen with slick hands as well:

This is the same player some people were describing as “washed up” just a few months ago.

Thumbs Up: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s Goaltending
While his franchise-record shutout streak was ended thanks to the woefully underwhelming play of the skaters in front of him, Andrei Vasilevskiy was once again very good in this game. He was the only reason that the Lightning even had a chance to mount their comeback. When he’s on his game, he is as good (if not better) than every other goaltender in the National Hockey League; and he’s been on his game a lot this season:

The data above doesn’t include Thursday’s game, but it’s indicative of the kind of difference that Vasilevskiy has been making for the Bolts. He was a difference maker in this contest.

Thumbs Down: Everything Else
The Lightning were bad. Really bad. Especially through the first 40 minutes, the Blackhawks were skating circles around them. Tampa struggled to manage the puck, struggled to generate sustained offensive zone time, and struggled to defend with any sense of competence. It was an ugly, ugly performance. That’s now a few too many of those in recent weeks, where Vasilevskiy has been relied upon as the only line of defence.

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The Lightning will have a chance to turn in a better performance against these same Blackhawks tomorrow night.

As always, thanks for reading.
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