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However you spell it, Andrei Vasilevskiy (?) leads the Lightning

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Who was that masked man in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning? The one who stopped 30 shots? The one who had his first shutout of the year? The one who led the Bolts to their ninth win in 11 games going into the All-Star Break?

Well, the team would tell you it was Andrei Vasilveskiy.

His father’s passport, however, spells the name “Andrei Vasilevskii.”

His mother’s passport, to make it even more confusing, spells it “Liudmila Vasilevskaia.”

Lightning coach Jon Cooper? He just spells it terrific after Vasilevskiy’s performance shut down the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 1-0 victory. And if you think it looked good to Cooper, you should try the view through the eyes of his parents, who saw their son play their first NHL game Saturday night.

“It was a big win,” said captain Steven Stamkos, who scored the only goal. “I didn’t think we played very well. But we came to the rink with an idea in mind to get two points. But I don’t think we can sit here and say we deserved the two points but Vasi stepped up and played a fantastic game and gave us a chance.

“I think his parents were in town for the first time. I told him they should move down here.”

The Bolts started the game well, scoring in the first 4:38 and, at one point, leading 17-1 in shots. But Toronto played well in the second and third, and only the inspired play by Vasilevskiy kept the Lightning ahead.

Vasilevskiy had given up 16 goals in his previous five starts, although his record is now 8-4 on the season.

The Lightning are next home against the Red Wings on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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