Andrei Vasilevskiy began the Eastern Conference Final as the back-up goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Due to an injury to Ben Bishop, he’s now moved into the No. 1 position, and has been especially busy in the past two games of this series. In Wednesday’s Game 3 loss for the Bolts, Vasilevskiy faced 48 shots. He stopped 44 of them. The Pittsburgh Penguins unleashed an unrelenting onslaught that resulted in a 4-2 victory to take the series lead.
In these last two games, the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy has faced 89 shots.
Meanwhile, in the same span, fellow 21-year-old goalie Matt Murray of the Penguins hasn’t been tested with nearly the same frequency — only 49 shots faced.
“He was unreal tonight. What’s obviously upsetting is — what did we give up, 41 the other night? We were on the road, and they were desperate,” Bolts’ head coach Jon Cooper told reporters of Vasilevskiy’s performance.
“But it’s extremely disappointing to give up 48 shots in your home building in a playoff game. That’s unacceptable. So I just feel bad for the kid that he’s keeping us in there and we’re not finding a way to bail him out. The way things have gone these two games, it doesn’t matter who’s in net.”
As for Bishop, Cooper seemed optimistic he could return in this series.