The Tampa Bay Lightning have done it again. They clinched their ninth straight playoff series victory in incredible fashion on Saturday night in game seven in the Mecca of hockey.
Despite losing Brayden Point to a scary injury in the first period, the Lightning found a way to put together one of the most remarkable performances in franchise history. They not only added another chapter to their dynastic run, but they also etched another chapter into the tortured recent history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in what may have been the most satisfying win in recent years that was not for the Stanley Cup.
Game seven is when heroes are made, and names are remembered forever. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s name would be remembered forever regardless of what happened last night, but he added another all-time performance to his record.
Vasilevskiy was not at his absolute best in this series. But his game seven performance reminded you that he is the best goalie on the planet. His consecutive series clinching shoutout streak may have come to an end, but the belief that he would not give up another goal was very much real. He made save after save and proved again to be one of the great playoff performers in history.
Speaking of heroes, you may have heard but Nick Paul had the night of his life. If you heard a Toronto area native would make the greatest mark in game seven, Paul would not have come to mind first. With his pair of goals, Julien BriseBois’ aggression at the trade deadline was validated once more.
Regardless of what happens in whatever time he has left in Tampa Bay, he will never be forgotten for his two goals in game seven, especially the beauty that ended up being the game winner.
In these types of games, it’s often the “other” guys who end up pushing the team over the top, and Nick Paul was that guy. Not only did he score twice, but he logged some huge minutes while holding on the lead. He played over 22 and came up huge as a defensive presence.
No matter where this Lightning team ends up going this postseason, they will always have this game. A surgical team effort on the road without one of their best players. A performance of a lifetime.
And by the way, you do not have to thank us for Nick Paul’s heroics. Sometimes you just have a feeling.