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Trophy Tracker

Vasilevskiy clear favorite for Vezina Trophy

Lightning goalie chosen for award by NHL.com panel

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

To mark the conclusion of the 2018-19 regular season, NHL.com is running its fifth installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Vezina Trophy, the award given annually to the goalie adjudged to be the best at his position as selected by the NHL's general managers.

Andrei Vasilevskiy won't be denied this time. Not after the historic season the Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed.

The 24-year-old was a finalist last season for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top goalie, which ultimately was won by Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.

But Vasilevskiy's name will be called at the 2019 NHL Awards in June, according to a 21-member panel of NHL.com voters.

Vasilevskiy has been the backbone for the Lightning, who won the Presidents' Trophy with 128 points and tied the NHL record for wins in a season (62). The Lightning secured home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs on March 18.

Vasilevskiy won a League-high 39 games, tied for fourth in shutouts (six) and had a 2.40 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 53 games.

He received 15 first-place votes and had 97 points from the NHL.com panel. Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars was second (63 points) and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights was third (40 points).

The Lightning have no shortage of offensive weapons -- forward Nikita Kucherov led the NHL with 128 points and was one of three Lightning players to score at least 40 goals -- but Vasilevskiy's teammates know how much he's meant to their success this season.

The argument could be made Vasilevskiy would have shattered the NHL career-high 44 victories he had last season if he hadn't missed a month with a foot injury. He returned Dec. 13, making 49 saves in a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Amalie Arena.

Video: TBL@TOR: Vasilevskiy slides across to deny Matthews

Vasilevskiy went 30-7-3 after his return from the injury, including 10 straight wins from Feb. 9-March 5.

"There's not a lot that can be said about [Vasilevskiy] that all of us don't already know," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "I think he's gotten better as the season's gone on. I thought coming back from that injury, he wanted to get dialed in right away.

"You just see his work ethic in practice. You see his preparation for games, he's just so competitive. He wants to make every single save. It's obviously fun to be part of that because it makes our job easier to go out and just have to get one."

Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning, 97 points (15 first-place votes); Ben Bishop, Stars, 63 points (five first-place votes); Marc-Andre Fleury, Golden Knights, 40 points (one first-place vote); Robin Lehner, New York Islanders, 28 points; Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes, 25 points; Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, 16 points; Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets, 11 points; Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs, 11 points; Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues, nine points; Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins, five points; Thomas Greiss, Islanders, four points; Pekka Rinne, Predators, three points; Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, one point; Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild, one point; John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks, one point.

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