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Vasilevskiy shines in return as Bolts win eighth straight game

Making his first start in over a month, Andrei Vasilevskiy set a new career-high with 48 saves as Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 4-1 on Thursday night

by Jacob Lynn / TampaBayLightning.com

Andrei Vasilevskiy shined in his return to the lineup as the Lightning extended their division lead over Toronto with a 4-1 win on Thursday night.

Just over a month removed from fracturing his foot in a practice session, Vasilevskiy made a career-high 48 saves to backstop the Lightning to their eighth straight win.

His night didn't get off to a great start, however.

Five minutes into the game, Kasperi Kapanen scored to give the Leafs the lead. Nikita Kucherov looked to start a rush out of the Lightning's defensive zone but ended up having his pass intercepted by Kapanen who beat Vasilevskiy with a quick shot.

Vasilevskiy would make sure that was all the Leafs got.

Video: TOR@TBL: Vasilevskiy stretches pad to rob Tavares

After Anthony Cirelli tied the game with a shorthanded goal midway through the first, Vasilevskiy made a huge save on Auston Matthews. A deflected puck came right to Matthews wide open in front of the net but his one-timed shot was stopped by Vasilevskiy sprawling across his crease.

Vasilevskiy was called on again late in the period to make a save on John Tavares. From point-blank range Tavares tried to finish on a backhand but at the last second Vasilevskiy extended his left pad to make the stop.

Perhaps Vasilevskiy's best save of the game came two minutes into the third. Again moving quickly to his left, Vasilevskiy got a piece of Patrick Marleau's backhand shot. The puck then fell behind Vasilevskiy who kept the puck from crossing the line by quickly kicking out his right skate.

While Vasilevskiy kept Toronto off the board, the Lightning offense generated enough in the second period to secure the victory.  

Kucherov gave the Bolts the lead for good with a one-timer on a power play. The play was initially whistled dead on the ice after it appeared Frederik Anderson had made the save with his glove but video review revealed that the force of the shot had caused the goaltender to carry the puck over the goalline.

With 36 seconds to play in the second, Alex Killorn then extended the lead to two, beating Anderson with a backhand shot. Tyler Johnson then pushed Tampa Bay's lead to 4-1 with two seconds remaining in the period, scoring on a one-timer.

Video: TOR@TBL: Kucherov nets one-timer on power play

Tampa Bay's special teams came up big in the victory. The Bolts killed off six Toronto power plays, scored a power play goal of their own and even recorded a shorthanded tally.

The Lightning's win streak now sits at a season-high eight games, as Thursday's win completes a perfect 4-0-0 homestand. They now depart on a four game swing through Western Canada that begins on Sunday evening in Winnipeg.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
TOR | 5:26 Kasperi Kapanen (12) - Unassisted
TBL | 8:20 Anthony Cirelli (9) - Ryan Callahan - SHG

2nd Period
TBL | 5:30 Nikita Kucherov (13) - Victor Hedman, J.T. Miller - PPG
TBL | 19:24 Alex Killorn (7) - Anthony Cirelli, J.T. Miller
TBL | 19:58 Tyler Johnson (13) - Nikita Kucherov, Dan Girardi

3rd Period
No Scoring

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