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Vezina Trophy

Vasilevskiy not satisfied with Vezina Trophy for Lightning

Goalie says award is 'big honor,' but main goal is to win Stanley Cup

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- While holding a miniature version of the Vezina Trophy he had just won for the first time, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy couldn't help thinking about the trophy he's yet to win.

"My main goal is still the Stanley Cup," Vasilevskiy said at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone on Wednesday. "Of course, the Vezina, it's good, too. I'm very happy to get it. But my main goal is the Stanley Cup, for sure."

Vasilevskiy had to settle for being voted by the League's 31 general managers as the best goalie in the NHL, beating out Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars and Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders, after the Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round.

 

[RELATED: Vasilevskiy of Lightning wins Vezina Trophy | Complete NHL Awards coverage]

 

In the regular season, Vasilevskiy helped the Lightning tie the NHL record for wins in a season with 62, matching the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings, and win the Presidents' Trophy with 128 points. The 24-year-old led the NHL with 39 wins, tied for fourth with Lehner with six shutouts, and had a 2.40 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 53 starts, including winning 18 of his final 21 games.

"This award's not just mine," Vasilevskiy said. "It goes to our team, for sure. All the guys worked extremely hard."

But Vasilevskiy knew he was up against tough competition. Lehner (25-13-5) ranked second in the NHL in GAA (2.13) and save percentage (.930) among goalies with at least 40 games played. Bishop (27-15-2) led the NHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.934), and was third in shutouts with seven.

So Vasilevskiy wasn't convinced he was going to win.

"I didn't think like that at all," Vasilevskiy said. "I think Robin and Ben, they've done an amazing job this season. So I think they both deserve this award."

Video: Andrei Vasilevskiy is awarded the Vezina Trophy

Vasilevskiy is the first Lightning goalie to win the Vezina and the second Russia-born goalie, joining Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who won it in 2013 and 2017. He finished third for the award last season behind Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. 

"It's a big honor," Vasilevskiy said. "I guess the hard work just pays off. But as I said, my main goal is the Stanley Cup. So I have to work even more to win the Cup."

Selected by Tampa Bay in the first round (No. 19) in the 2012 NHL Draft, Vasilevskiy has already worked hard over his five NHL seasons to get this far. After being Bishop's backup for most of his first three seasons, he became the Lightning's No. 1 goalie in 2017-18.

Over the past two seasons, Vasilevskiy is 83-27-7 with a 2.52 GAA, .922 save percentage and 14 shutouts. But he's having trouble getting over the Lightning's loss to the Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he went 0-4 with 3.83 GAA and .856 save percentage.

He vowed that winning the Vezina won't change him -- or satisfy him.

"I'm the same guy," Vasilevskiy said. "I'm still Andrei and ready to play more. So I'll work extremely hard to win the Stanley Cup."

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