Andrei Vasilevskiy ready if called upon again for Lightning

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TAMPA, Fla. — On the ice, in a hostile United Center, in the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was calm and composed, cool and capable. In front of the throngs of reporters crowding the dressing rooms all weeks, it’s a different story. Vasilevskiy, who’s still working on his English, won’t even allow cameras in the scrums.

Teuvo Teravainen isn’t the only 2012 first-round draft pick adjusting to the glare of the spotlight.

“Right now, it’s a lot of coverage around [the] Stanley Cup Final,” Vasilevskiy said Friday. “Right now, that’s part of our job.”

The 20-year-old Vasilevskiy, taken one pick after Teravainen in that draft, was a surprise starter in Game 4, making 17 saves in a 2-1 loss. His status for Saturday’s pivotal Game 5 is unknown. Ben Bishop, who’s battling some sort of lower-body injury, didn’t practice on Friday, but coach Jon Cooper said that was part of the plan — to take advantage of the extra day off between games to give Bishop as much rest as possible.

“Don’t be alarmed that he’s not out there,” Cooper said. “I’m not going to sit here and commit as to whether he’s going to play Saturday. He’s feeling better with each day.”

The uncertainly hasn’t bothered Vasilevskiy. Nothing, other than the cameras, has.

“That’s why I’m here in North America, just to play hockey,” he said. “The last two days, I’ve had more fun than all season. That’s awesome. I’m very excited.”

Chicago ties

Vasilevskiy has a Hawks connection, too; he played with Brent Sopel, a member of the Hawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup team, in the KHL, and the two became friends.

“He’s very good, he’s a very smart guy,” Vasilevskiy said. “He talked to me a lot, like how to play. He talked to me a lot in goal [about how] I puck-handle, how to make the pass, where he’s going to be playing and all the things. I like him.”

Killing it

The Hawks have proven that an effective penalty-kill can be the difference in a Stanley Cup run, riding a hot PK to the 2013 championship. And after months of mediocrity, the Hawks are suddenly killing it on the PK again. Tampa Bay is just 1-of-11 on the power play through four games, despite all the firepower on the roster.

This after the Hawks allowed six power-play goals in six games against Nashville, three in four games against Minnesota, and three in seven games against Anaheim.

“I think when the games have been on the line, we haven’t given up the timely power-play goal against,” Joel Quenneville said. “The penalty-killers have done a good job of being aware of the details and what our opponents are up against. They try a lot of things. It’s a great power play.”

That said, Quenneville wasn’t thrilled that the Hawks had to kill four penalties in Game 4.

“Let’s stay out of the box first and foremost,” he said. “You give them three or four in a game right now, it’s join to be a tough night for you.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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