Cooper defends Vasilevskiy: Both Bolts goalies at once wouldn't have beat Rangers

Sarah Stier / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Jon Cooper stuck up for his all-world goaltender after the New York Rangers walloped his Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday night.

The Lightning head coach dismissed the notion that Andrei Vasilevskiy was to blame for the defeat.

"This isn't on him at all," Cooper said postgame. "The east-west (nature of the game), the quality scoring chances we gave up, I mean, you could've put both goalies in the net and (the pucks are) still probably going in."

Vasilevskiy gave up all six Rangers goals on 34 shots. His counterpart, Hart Trophy finalist Igor Shesterkin, turned aside 37 of the 39 shots he faced for New York.

The Bolts puck-stopper came into Game 1 with a .932 save percentage over 11 contests, including an incredible .981 mark in Tampa Bay's four-game sweep of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers, who boasted the NHL's best offense during the regular season.

Vasilevskiy has helped the Lightning win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. The Russian goalie, who'll turn 28 in July, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP last season and claimed the Vezina in 2018-19.

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Cooper defends Vasilevskiy: Both Bolts goalies at once wouldn't have beat Rangers
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