Vasilevskiy’s 3rd straight shutout lifts Lightning over Stars
March 04 2021 12:31 AM
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (left) and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy defend against Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski and left wing Jamie Benn (right) during the third period at the American Airlines Center. (USA TODAY Sports)


Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded his third consecutive shutout, Ondrej Palat scored a power-play goal and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
In stopping all 28 shots, Vasilevskiy extended his shutout streak to 200-plus minutes. 
Because he also blanked Dallas in Game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final to clinch the title, 
then held the Stars scoreless Saturday and Tuesday, he became the first Lightning goalie ever to shut out the same team three times in a row (regular season and playoffs). Vasilevskiy notched the 24th regular-season shutout of his career. He earned the league’s First Star of the Week on Monday after holding the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas scoreless last week in home wins.
Yanni Gourde scored into an empty net and Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Blake Coleman registered assists for the Lightning, who won their fifth straight and hold a 10-game point streak (7-0-3) against the Stars. After being pulled in his last outing, Anton Khudobin returned in goal and stopped 17 of 18 shots for the Stars, who opened their six-game homestand by slipping to 1-6-3 in their past 10. Defenseman Andrej Sekera was out of the Dallas lineup due to a non-COVID-19-related illness. Joel Hanley drew in for Sekera and made his seventh appearance of the season.
The second straight matchup between last season’s Stanley Cup finalists started exactly as it did Saturday in Florida – with Tampa Bay reasserting its prowess on special teams.
Palat, who netted the first marker Saturday on the man advantage in a 5-0 Lightning win, was at again on the first power play Tuesday. He ripped in his ninth goal from the right circle just 10 seconds into the power play at 7:29. Dallas, which went 0-for-6 with an extra man Saturday, finished 0-for-3 on the power play Tuesday. The teams loosened up a bit in a second period that featured a breakneck pace with five-on-five play driving the action through the neutral zone.
Vasilevskiy used the inside of his blocker to stop Jamie Benn’s wrister from the right circle – that eventually clanked away off the far post – with just over 10 minutes remaining in the frame.
Though neither team scored in the second, Dallas bettered its play in front of Vasilevskiy and on the penalty kill, thwarting both man advantages by the Lightning.
Tampa Bay killed two more Dallas power plays in the third while the Stars killed off Nick Caamano’s double-minor penalty for high sticking. Gourde’s empty-netter with five seconds left clinched the win.

Rangers rebound with victory over Sabres
Chris Kreider scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period and the host New York Rangers edged the struggling Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, on Tuesday night. Pavel Buchnevich scored on the game’s first shift and added an assist as the Rangers won for the fourth time in six games and bounced back from a lacklustre showing in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. Tuesday ended a three-game homestand for the Rangers, who embark on a six-game road trip.
Rookie Alexis Lafreniere, who scored the game-winner in overtime in Buffalo on Jan. 28, added the other goal as the Rangers beat the Sabres for the ninth time in the past 12 meetings.
Igor Shesterkin, who took the loss Sunday when Alexander Georgiev was getting attended to in the locker room, made 22 saves. He was seldom tested but preserved New York’s one-goal lead midway through the second period with a diving stop on Jeff Skinner.
Sam Reinhart and Tobias Rieder scored for Buffalo, which entered the game coming off consecutive 3-0 home shutouts to the Philadelphia Flyers. 
The Sabres tied a season high with their fourth straight loss and dropped to 2-8-1 in their past 11 games. Buffalo goaltender Carter Hutton made 16 saves.
New York scored 28 seconds 
in when Mika Zibanejad hit Buchnevich in stride with a lead pass that resulted in a breakaway goal. After Buffalo tied it 27 seconds later on Reinhart’s wrist shot from close range over Shesterkin’s glove, the Rangers regained the lead 2:36 in when Lafreniere stood in the crease and deflected Buchnevich’s pass from the right faceoff circle over a sprawling Hutton into the vacated net on a goal that occurred moments after Zibanejad forced a Buffalo giveaway in the right corner. Kreider made it 3-1 with 10:28 left in the second on a goal that seemed to surprise him. 
After getting the puck from Ryan Lindgren in the neutral zone, he lifted a wrist shot from above the right circle through Buffalo defenseman Brandon Montour’s legs that sailed over Hutton’s stick.

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