Andrei Vasilevskiy in net again against Capitals
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had a busy enough weekend, facing 84 combined shots in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.
But the 23-year-old Russian will be back in net tonight as Tampa Bay hosts the Capitals and historically-hot Alex Ovechkin, who has seven goals in two games. Coach Jon Cooper said it was the plan all along for Vasilevskiy to play the first three.
It'll require a team effort to slow down Ovechkin, the greatest scorer of this generation.
"Ovechkin is a a shooter - they're going to shoot," Cooper said. "You have to limit where they shoot from, try to make their angles as bad as possible to limit their time and space. Those types of players are going to get their shots. The problem is when they're hot, which is right now, the puck has eyes for them. How much can you stop that? It's tough. I'm pretty sure their last two opponents - Ottawa and Montreal - they were trying to stop him as well."
Though it's not official, it appears the Lightning could go with seven defensemen in the lineup tonight. Veteran wing Ryan Callahan was moved to the fourth line with Cedric Paquette and Chris Kunitz, potentially to match up with Ovechkin.
Lightning rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, 19, said he's excited for his first chance to face Ovechkin, his favorite player growing up in Russia. 'He's always hungry for pucks, and he wants to score," Sergachev said. "He's a big guy who loves to hit, I love that."
The Lightning's issue, especially Saturday, was not playing fast enough in each zone. Part of that was taking penalties and turning the puck over way too much.
"We're a little bit of thinking too much," Cooper said. "First of all, when you turn the puck over, you're not going to play fast. We're turning the puck over way too often. And the other part is when we're, especially in the defensive zone, we're thinking too much instead of reacting. So just got to get our guys reacting and take it from there and then we'll play faster."
More from skate: J.T. Brown and Gabriel Dumont were mixing on the second line, a sign they might be scratched tonight for the 11/7..... It would be Slater Koekkoek's season debut if he plays.. Erik Condra (back surgery) practiced with the team in a regular jersey, so he's cleared for contact... Michael Bournival, who cleared waivers, was reassigned to AHL Syracuse. Capitals backup Philipp Grabauer.