- Associated Press - Friday, October 26, 2018

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Andrei Vasilevskiy has a knack for shutouts - and then backing them up.

Vasilevskiy followed his first shutout of the season by stopping 29 of 31 shots, J.T. Miller scored his third goal of the season and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Friday.

The 24-year-old Russian goaltender, who blanked Colorado on Wednesday, went 6-1-1 last season in games following a shutout.

“He’s just a good young goaltender. He was in a zone again tonight, you could see he was just tracking pucks,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Our guys did a good job of letting him see pucks. … If he can see them, he’s usually gonna stop them. He was nominated for the Vezina (Trophy) last year, and that wasn’t by fluke. When we have our breakdowns, he’s been a rock for us. Give Vegas credit, they made a big push, but our goalie was there when we needed him and it’s a big win in a tough spot on the road.”

Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point also scored for the Lightning, who have not lost in regulation since their second game of the season, going 6-0-1 over that stretch.

Shea Theodore and William Karlsson scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves.

Ten games into their inaugural season, the Golden Knights were 8-2-0. They didn’t lose their fifth game until Nov. 7. Now, the defending Western Conference champions are 4-5-1 and sixth in the Pacific Division.

“Every year is a new year, so what you did the year before means absolutely nothing,” Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos said. “I’m sure if you ask them they’d say the same thing. Every year you have to go out and prove yourself as an individual, and you have to prove yourself as a team. They’re a still a good team over there. You’re not going to start the year with a great record every time. It’s how you grow as a team. They still got the pieces to be an elite team in this league.”

One piece that needs to improve for the Golden Knights is the power play. Though it notched a power play goal on Friday, Vegas still has the league’s worst conversion rate with a man advantage, now 3 for 32. Tampa Bay owns the league’s best penalty kill (35 of 37).

Johnson put the Lightning on the board early in the first period when he spotted a rebound in front of the net and chipped a shot past Fleury. Ryan Carpenter used the boards to slide a perfect pass to Theodore, who blasted a one-timer through traffic from the blue line and past Vasilevskiy to tie game a couple of minutes later. Later in the first, Stamkos delivered a pass into the slot for Point, who tapped the puck past Fleury.

Miller extended the lead to 3-1 early in the second. He was positioned perfectly in front of net when the puck deflected off him and past Fleury for a power-play goal.

Vegas outshot the Lightning 13-1 in the third period but came up empty after Karlsson ripped a wrist shot past Vasilevskiy on the glove side for a power-play goal with 18:13 left.

“I think there were some chances,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’ve just got to keep executing and work at it.”

Tampa Bay blocked 27 shots, including 17 in the third period.

“They had a lot of opportunities and they come at you with a lot of speed. It’s tough to contain,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “I think our best player, for sure, in the third period was (Vasilevskiy). We had to block some shots. We gotta continue to play with a little more assertiveness in the third, especially with the lead.”

NOTES: Vegas’ Max Pacioretty exited the game in the first period and did not return. … Theodore’s goal marked Vegas’ first from a defenseman this season. … Vasilevskiy came into the game having allowed just two goals in first periods this season; his .966 first-period save percentage was tops in the NHL. … Stamkos needs one goal to reach 350 for his career. … Miller will reach the 200-point plateau with his next point. … Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman left in the first period with an undisclosed injury, and Cooper said “there’s a good chance he’s not playing tomorrow” in Arizona. … The Lightning have scored on the power play in four straight games and six of their last seven.

UP NEXT

Lightning: Visit Arizona on Saturday.

Golden Knights: Host Ottawa on Sunday.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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