Bolts send Vasilevskiy (blood clot) to AHL for conditioning stint


On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning moved one step closer to getting their No. 2 goalie back.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s been sidelined since September with a blood clot near his collarbone, has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse for a conditioning stint.

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Vasilevskiy had surgery Sept. 3 to remove a blood clot from near his left collarbone and to treat a type of vascular thoracic outlet syndrome. Recovery time was expected to be 2-3 months.

He practiced for the first time Monday.

Syracuse plays Wednesday at Toronto and Friday at home against Hershey.

Tampa’s first-round pick in 2013 — 19th overall — Vasilevskiy captured the backup position behind Ben Bishop last season and ran with it, going 7-5-1 with a 2.36 GAA and .918 save percentage.

In the playoffs, he made four appearances, one of which was a start in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final.

Since Vasilevskiy’s been out, Latvian Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis has held down the No. 2 gig and fared well. He stopped 31 of 32 shots in a 1-0 OT loss to Chicago last week.

Five individual stats you may find interesting


27:00 — The average ice time for Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. No NHL defenseman has averaged more. Not Ryan Suter. Not Drew Doughty. Second among Penguins blue-liners is Letang’s partner, Ian Cole, at 21:32. Then there’s another big drop-off to Ben Lovejoy at 17:55, while Olli Maatta is averaging just 16:39.

21:25Sidney Crosby‘s average ice time. No NHL forward has averaged more. So the Penguins have the defenseman who’s playing the most and the forward who’s playing the most. Crosby and Letang are, of course, very good players; they should play a lot. But there’s a reason people wonder about the Penguins’ depth. Or, if not that, they wonder if coach Mike Johnston is deploying his players properly.

549 — Ryan Miller‘s minutes played. No goalie has played more. Ben Bishop is second at 541. The common denominator there? Injured backups. Jacob Markstrom is hurt for the Canucks; Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning. Miller (.930 SV%) has been excellent so far, but Richard Bachman could see his first action Thursday or Friday when the Canucks play back-to-back in Dallas and Arizona, respectively. Kristers Gudlevskis was outstanding the other night in Chicago while giving Bishop a rest, but the Lightning lost 1-0 in overtime.

36 — Shots for Kings winger Dustin Brown. That’s the most of any player who’s yet to score. Jakub Voracek is next at 34, followed by three players — Tyler Johnson, Jason Pominville, and Torey Krug — who have 24.

10 — Assists for underrated Arizona center Martin Hanzal. That’s the most in the NHL. Hanzal missed last night’s 6-0 loss in Boston with a lower-body injury. Before that, he’d skated mostly with youngsters Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder. “To have a guy like Marty on your team makes a huge difference,” captain Shane Doan told ESPN. “We lost him last year, and that was probably the beginning of the end for us. He’s probably out most important forward.”

Lightning coach Cooper praises Gudlevskis after OT loss to ‘Hawks


The Tampa Bay Lightning may not have been able to come up with a victory in Saturday’s Stanley Cup final rematch against Chicago, but coach Jon Cooper was impressed with rookie goalie Kristers Gudlevskis.

After being recalled from the AHL on Saturday, the 23-year-old turned in a solid performance against the defending champions and it didn’t go unnoticed.

“Gudlevskis was the best player on the ice for us,” Cooper said. “He was fantastic. Their guy (Toews) made a big-time play.”

Cooper also praised Gudlevskis’ maturity and his improved puck skills.

“He was dishing pucks left, right, middle. He was really confident with that and it just made breaking out the puck that much easier. Like I said, he did it all tonight.”

After stopping 30 shots in regulation, Gudlevskis couldn’t come up with a save on Jonathan Toews‘ goal on a partial breakaway in the extra frame.

To hear all of Jon Cooper’s post-game comments, click on the video below.

Crawford earns shutout, Toews stunning in OT as ‘Hawks take reunion vs. Lightning


The Tampa Bay Lightning put forth a good effort Saturday night, but it wasn’t enough to get some measure of revenge against the team that bested them in the Stanley Cup Final.

In their first game against Chicago since the playoffs, Tampa Bay took the defending champions to overtime, but the Lightning could do nothing to stop Jonathan Toews as the captain powered his way to a stunning overtime goal in the Blackhawks’ 1-0 overtime victory.

Kristers Gudlevskis, making his first start of the season, still had a strong game with 31 saves to his credit. However, Corey Crawford is the one with the shutout after turning aside all 21 Lightning shots. It’s a bit of deja vu for Tampa Bay, which saw its playoff run end on the strength of a Crawford shutout.

Chicago has improved to 5-3-0 ahead of Monday’s contest against the struggling Anaheim Ducks. Tampa Bay is still 5-2-2 and has gotten four of a possible six points so far in its road trip. The Lightning will wrap it up in St. Louis on Tuesday before heading home for a game against Colorado Thursday night.

Goalie nods: Sabres give rookie Ullmark first NHL start


Earlier this season, the Buffalo Sabres were dealt a huge blow when they found out they’d be without starting goaltender Robin Lehner for 6-10 weeks because of an ankle sprain.

They decided that they wouldn’t seek help from outside the organization, and they turned the starting job to career backup Chad Johnson.

As expected, Johnson hasn’t looked very good since taking over. The 29-year-old has a 2-5-0 record to go along with a 3.06 goals-against-average and a .879 save percentage this season.

On Saturday, the Sabres coaching staff decided it was time to put a fresh face between the pipes.

Ullmark was Buffalo’s sixth round, 163rd overall, in the 2012 draft.

He underwent hip surgery this off-season and after a few impressive starts in the AHL, the Sabres are ready to give him his first opportunity.

He’ll be going up against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.


Frederik Andersen is the likely starter for the Ducks. The Wild will counter with Devan Dubnyk.

Jonathan Bernier will get his second crack at the Montreal Canadiens this season. Carey Price will try to propel Montreal to a 9-0-0 record tonight.

Anders Lindback will make his first start of the 2015-16 season for Arizona. Craig Anderson and his 3-1-1 record will be in goal for Ottawa.

Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for the Rangers, while the Flyers turn to Steve Mason. The Flyers recalled Jason LaBarbera to serve as Mason’s backup because Michal Neuvirth is sidelined with an injury.

The Florida Pantheres will go with Al Montoya tonight. The Stars turn to Kari Lehtonen after Antti Niemi defeated the Penguins on Thursday.

Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to start for Pittsburgh. Nashville should counter with Pekka Rinne.

Jaroslav Halak may get an opportunity to face his old team tonight. St. Louis will go with Brian Elliott, who has a perfect 4-0-0 record this season.

After putting Kevin Poulin on waivers on Saturday, the Lightning are expected to go with Kristers Gudlevskis in Chicago. The ‘Hawks will turn to Corey Crawford in a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup final.

Columbus, still looking for their first win this season, will likely turn to a struggling Sergei Bobrovsky. Semyon Varlamov will be between the pipes for Colorado. Varlamov is coming off a 1-0 shutout win over Carolina.

Petr Mrazek will get his third start in four games for Detroit. The Canucks are likely to counter with Ryan Miller, who is 0-2-1 in his last three starts.

Cam Ward and Martin Jones are expected to square off when Carolina travels to San Jose. After starting the season 4-0, Jones has lost back-to-back games while allowing eight goals in the process.