The Tampa Bay Lightning needed to just win one hockey game and they did that Thursday night in Toronto. Tampa Bay lived to fight another night as Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning depth came up big on the way to a hard earned 4-2 win on the road.
Vasilevskiy had a tough last three games, despite a lot of the goals he gave up not being his fault. Regardless, his save percentage was still below .900 in three straight games. He made 28 saves on 30 Toronto shots Thursday and made multiple extremely difficult stops along the way. All of the big saves he was not able to make the last three games, he made them in game five.
If Vasilevskiy keeps up this sharp form, good luck trying to finish off this team. In game six and seven a year ago against Toronto, Vasilevskiy made 56 saves on 60 total shots. This is the time of the series he rises to the occasion.
After going down early, Anthony Cirelli responded 26 seconds later with his third goal of the series. Cirelli’s goal was just the start of the Lightning’s depth pitching in and leading the charge.
Mikey Eyssimont found himself inserted into the lineup in place of Tanner Jeannot who is considered to be “banged up”. Eyssimont had not played since game one of the series and provided a welcomed jolt of energy to lineup. It was not known until warmups that Eyssimont was back in the lineup but it just felt as though he would have an impact.
Eyssimont would end up with a goal that put the Lightning ahead in the second period. He showed a willingness just to put the puck on net and was rewarded with a bit of a soft goal.
Eyssimont was not done there as he would also pick up an assist on Nick Paul’s goal that would wind up being the game winner as the third line connected for their second goal of the game. Paul had not scored since February 21st.
To top the night off, Tampa Bay was actually able to hold on to their lead in the third period after squandering their chances in the last two games at home. Tampa Bay was once again the better team and they were finally rewarded for it with the victory that brings the series back home.
Now, the pressure on Toronto is even greater and it is mounting by the second. They have now lost 11 straight potentially series clinching games. They are going to start gripping their sticks even tighter now that the Lightning have planted the seed of doubt and making Leaf Nation re-live all of their past nightmares.