Andrei Vasilevskiy earns 11th straight win over Canadiens
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves to beat Montreal for the 11th consecutive time, Brayden Point had two goals, and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Vasilevskiy is the third goaltender in NHL history to earn a victory in 11 consecutive regular-season games against Montreal. Ottawa’s Alec Connell (Feb. 28, 1925-Feb. 22, 1927) and Toronto’s Turk Broda (Dec. 9, 1939-Jan. 23, 1941) both had 12-game streaks.
“He’s a great goaltender,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. “At the end of the day, he’s a difference-maker for us, especially proving it against this team that we played tonight. Eleven straight is very impressive. First guy in 80 years, none of us have been around that long.”
Vasilevskiy is 14-1-2 overall in games against the Canadiens.
Point has 13 goals in his last 13 games. The center has a goal in six consecutive home games, which is one shy of tying Nikita Kucherov’s franchise record.
Alex Killorn and Brandon Hagel also scored for Tampa Bay. Kucherov had an assist and leads the NHL with 37.
Jake Allen stopped 33 shots, and Kaiden Guhle scored with 2:39 left in the game for the Canadiens, who have lost six of seven (1-5-1).
Montreal played five rookie defensemen in a game for the first time in team history. The last NHL team to do it was the Philadelphia Flyers on Apr. 5, 2007.
Montreal’s NHL-worse power play went 0 for 5. The Canadiens have converted two chances in 37 tries over their last 11 games.
“It’s pretty embarrassing,” Canadiens center Nick Suzuki said.
Tampa Bay scored on its only man-advantage opportunity. Montreal had given up four short-handed goals over the last three games.
“We’re losing that fight right now,” Canadiens coach Martin St Louis said. “Special teams for sure. It’s hurting our team success right now.”
Point made it 3-0 at the 16-minute mark of the second when he skated in from the neutral zone and made several nifty moves to elude four defenders before scoring from the low slot.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was impressed with Point’s determination.
“His will to succeed,” Cooper said. “Difference-makers do things like that, and that’s what he did.”
Vasilevskiy turned aside Cole Caufield’s power-play backhander from close range in the second. Caufield also hit the post in the period.
Killorn and Point, off a pass from Kucherov, had first-period goals.
Kucherov reached 50 points in 33 games with the assist, tying Vincent Lecavalier (2007-08) for the fewest games to reach the mark in team history.
Hagel scored in the third.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos remained three away from becoming the 47th NHL player to reach 500 goals. He has gone five straight games without a score.
Hedman had two assists and finished plus-3. His new defensive partner, Zach Bogosian got his first point in 19 games with an assist and also was plus-3. … Vasilevskiy has gone 71 games without a regular-season shutout, dating to Nov. 26, 2021 against Seattle.
Canadiens: RW Brendan Gallagher (lower body) took part in the morning skate. … C Sean Monahan (upper body) has resumed skating. … LW Paul Byron (hip) has had some improvement over the last two weeks but is not yet skating.
Canadiens: Play Thursday at Florida.
Lightning: Host the New York Rangers on Thursday.
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