How do you stop the Colorado Avalanche’s red-hot top line? Perhaps “Andrei Vasilevskiy plus a timely call” might be the answer.
The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Avs 1-0 on Wednesday night, with Vasilevskiy stopping all 22 Avs shots to earn a shutout, thus keeping Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog off the board.
Of course, people who grimace at marginal offside challenges will blurt out that the trio actually “did” create a goal in this one. After killing a penalty, MacKinnon sent a great pass to Landeskog, who made no mistake about his shot, which beat Vasilevskiy for what appeared to be a sensational opening goal.
Unfortunately, Tyson Jost did make a mistake, as a coach’s challenge determined that he was offside before the goal was scored. (Check out replays of that pivotal moment at the NHL’s Situation Room blog.)
As much of a bummer as that was for the top line and an excited Colorado crowd, the bottom line is that they couldn’t create that magic again, in a way that counted on the scoreboard. The trio generated seven shots on goal (four by MacKinnon), yet they couldn’t get a puck by Vasilevskiy.
This win bumps the Lightning to 6-1-1 on the season, extending a point streak to six games (5-0-1). The Bolts ended up managing to contain a speedy Avalanche team on its home ice, which likely won’t be a small feat as the 2018-19 season goes along.
Colorado, meanwhile, painfully sees a three-game winning streak end. The Avalanche are still off to a strong start (6-2-2), but this was a missed opportunity to affirm their ascent among the NHL’s best. The Avs also eye a tough haul soon; after Friday’s home game against the Senators, Colorado faces a three-game road trip and a stretch of six of seven games on the road from Oct. 27 through Nov. 11.
If this was intended to be a “statement game,” then the Lighting’s response appeared to be: “not yet.” Or at least “not tonight.”