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Burns: 3 Things we learned from routing Anaheim

Bryan Burns on a franchise record for Vasilevskiy, the second half surge and Cirelli's determination

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Tampa Bay scored four-consecutive goals to break open a 2-2 game in the second period and defeat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 at AMALIE Arena Saturday night, the Lightning picking up their second win in a row.

And it was an unlikely source that sparked the Bolts' surge.

More on that later.

Tampa Bay overcame a turnover-plagued start to the game. The Lightning found their footing midway through the second period and took control in the third, completely dominating the final 20 minutes of the game.

And they did it without their captain Steven Stamkos, who sat out his first game since the 2017-18 regular season finale with a lower-body injury.

Entering Saturday, the Lightning play 14 of their next 18 games at home.

They certainly got off to a good start on this stretch that will prove pivotal in their quest to rise in the Atlantic Division standings.

Here are the three most important takeaways from how they did it.

Video: Vasilevskiy on passing Ben Bishop

1. ALL-TIME WINS LEADER
Andrei Vasilevskiy can now claim every major Lightning career goaltending statistical record.

Vasilevskiy already owned Tampa Bay records for most saves and shutouts coming into the season.

Now he's earned the title of Lightning all-time wins leader.

On Saturday, Vasilevskiy picked up his 132nd career win, moving past Ben Bishop and into first place on Tampa Bay's wins leaderboard.

Both got to their respective marks in nearly an identical amount of games played. Vasilevskiy needed 222 games to break the record. Bishop recorded his 131 wins in 227 games.

Following the game, Vasilevskiy called the record "a dream" and said Bishop was like a mentor to him when the two played together with the Lightning.

"Ben was great to me and my family," Vasilevskiy said.

Since taking over as the Lightning's full-time starter following the trade of Bishop to Los Angeles on February 26, 2017, Vasilevskiy has been the best goalie in the NHL. He has the hardware to prove it - Vasilevskiy is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner - and he's compiled 103 wins since that date, more than any other goalie in the League (Winnipeg's Connor Hellebuyck is closest win 94 victories).

At just 25 years old and under contract with the Lightning for another eight seasons following the current one, Vasilevskiy has plenty of time to set the bar incredibly high for the next Lightning goalie to try to surpass too.

"I was surprised when he was inching towards (the record) that it was going to be this quick," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. "But, there's players in this league who've worked really hard and naturally he's talented, but he doesn't take that for granted. He battles every day and he's been a horse for us for a number of years. He's going to be in the future. If he stays healthy, it's probably going to be a really tough record to break when it's all said and done for him."

Video: ANA@TBL: Point sneaks the puck home for a PPG

2. SECOND HALF SURGE
The Lightning drew inspiration from the unlikeliest of sources in Saturday's win:

A second period penalty kill where they gave up a goal just as the penalty expired.

With Jan Rutta sitting in the box for hooking, the Lightning PK was hemmed in its own zone for a full two minutes. For much of that span, they were playing with basically three-and-a-half men as Ryan McDonagh broke his stick and Anthony Cirelli handed the defenseman his.

Despite being severely shorthanded, the Lightning battled. McDonagh and Cernak blocked shots. Cirelli chased the puck around doing whatever he could to be disruptive without a stick. Paquette got into passing lanes. Vasilevskiy made big save after big save.

But the Lightning couldn't get the puck out of their own zone and were eventually punished, Anaheim stringing together an exceptional passing sequence to get Rickard Rakell an open shot moments after Rutta exited the box.

A funny thing happened though after giving up the game-tying goal:

It galvanized the Bolts.

From that moment, the Lightning took control of the game, scoring four unanswered goals to pull away. Brayden Point answered on a power play 4:42 later to put the Lightning back in the lead, and they never looked back.

"You've got to give credit to both sides because it was a warrior effort for our guys, the goalie was making stops, guys were blocking shots, we were basically, for three quarters of it, only three guys had sticks, but Anaheim stuck with it," Cooper said. "And I think some of their guys wanted to change and the puck ended up on their stick and they couldn't. I even think (Ryan) Getzlaf was going to change right before the puck came to him and he made that pass. But the life on our bench after that, even though they scored, guys were jumping on guys, high-fiving them, picking them up."

The never-give-up effort the Lightning displayed on that penalty kill was just the wake-up call they needed after slogging through the first 20 minutes and change.

"It was a two-minute shift for those guys, and they were competing the whole time," Point said. "You give up a goal, but efforts like that can pick up a team."

On Saturday, that penalty kill effort in particular was the spark that jolted the Lightning to life.

 Video: ANA@TBL: Cirelli fights for loose puck, knocks in PPG

3. CIRELLI'S DETERMINATION PAYING OFF
Anthony Cirelli has been one of the Lightning's most important players this season, but it didn't always show up in the scoresheet with just one goal through the first 16 games of the season.

Of late, however, Cirelli's been rewarded for his incredible play.

Saturday's effort was a continuation of that trend.

Cirelli helped set up the Lightning's second goal by finding Nikita Kucherov in front from behind the net and then scored the goal that ultimately sunk the Ducks from his belly in the crease for a 5-2 Lightning lead and a two-point night for the second-year centerman.

Cirelli now has five goals on the season and has scored in four-straight games, matching his career long for a goal streak set previously from December 6-13, 2018.

"Sometimes you get lucky and pucks go in for you. But more importantly, anything you do to help the team win and right now we're all rolling," Cirelli said. "Everyone contributing, from goalie onward. Everyone's scoring goals and getting points and playing hard."

Both scoring plays were emblematic of the dogged determination Cirelli's displayed all season.

On the assist to Kucherov, Cirelli forechecked hard behind the Anaheim goal to force a turnover and in one motion rifled a pass for Kucherov to bury.

"That was a one-on-two and that was at the end of his shift too, and he still willed it out to get that puck and put it right on his tape and Kuch finished," Cooper said. "He just does all those things. It's easy to jump over a guy try and lift his stick hoping you're going to get it. It's much harder to take three strides and know you're going to have to physically get in front of him and he's always doing that type of thing. He does what's difficult. When you keep doing that, he's just ferocious at it, more often than not, you're going to get rewarded. He's definitely been getting rewarded of late."

On his goal, Cirelli took a couple cracks at a loose rebound in the crease, got dumped face-first on the ice yet still managed to push one past Ducks goalie Ryan Miller while on his stomach with one final whack.

"It's second, third, fourth, fifth effort. That's what he gives," Cooper said. "He never gives up on a play. That's why he's become quite a valuable piece on our team."

After Cirelli got to his feet after scoring, Kevin Shattenkirk raced in and inadvertently sent him back to the ice with an accidental hit on his teammate, his exuberance to celebrate with Cirelli getting the better of him.

"He came in hot," Cirelli joked.

Much like the player Shattenkirk knocked over.

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