TAMPA -- Andrei Vasilevskiy was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.
Vasilevskiy was voted the winner after he helped the Tampa Bay Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup champions. He made 22 saves in a 1-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Cup Final at Amalie Arena.
He was 16-7 in the playoffs with five shutouts, a .937 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average in 23 starts. Vasilevskiy was 7-0 in games following a loss in each of the past two postseasons.
"I can't believe it," Vasilevskiy said.
He ended each series this postseason with a shutout, including 1-0 against the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals, and five straight, dating to a 2-0 win in Game 6 of the Cup Final against the Dallas Stars last season.
He is the first goalie in NHL history to get a shutout in five straight series-clinching wins and the first to do it four times in a single postseason.
"It's obviously the whole team deserves it for sure," Vasilevskiy said. "Just to have five shutouts in one playoffs, it's all about team for sure. We were able to shut down the teams four times in a row in clinching games, just amazing. Can't say more. It's not about me, it's about our team."
Video: MTL@TBL, Gm5: Vasilevskiy helps Lightning win the Cup
Vasilevskiy said he didn't hear it when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced him as the Conn Smythe winner and thought the trophy would be awarded to forward Nikita Kucherov, who led the NHL this postseason with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists), or center Brayden Point, who led with 14 goals.
He said his teammates had to push him to receive the trophy.
"It was a big surprise," Vasilevskiy said.
But those teammates said they were not shocked.
"'Vasy' was outstanding," Kucherov said. "MVP. I was telling him every day, 'You're the MVP, you're the best player.' … Vasy took both Cups. He took MVP. And I keep telling him he's MVP, he's the guy, he's the best. He was on his head today. He kept us in the game. Another shutout by him. Remarkable. I can't even say more."
Vasilevskiy received 15 first-place votes among 18 ballots cast by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
"He's just a competitor. He's never satisfied," said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who won the award last season. "He always battles to become better. … Very well-deserved Conn Smythe for Vasy. I don't know our record coming off a loss, 13-0 or 14-0, and he's got a shutout again in a clinching game. I'm lost for words for this group."
Vasilevskiy is one of three NHL goalies with five shutouts in series-clinching wins, joining Chris Osgood (Detroit Red Wings) and Clint Benedict (Ottawa Senators). He is the third to have a shutout in two Stanley Cup clinching games, joining Benedict (1923, 1926) and Bernie Parent (1974, 1975 with the Philadelphia Flyers).
"He makes guys like us look good is what he does," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "What's remarkable to me is I can't believe how he shuts the door in the biggest games of his career. What is it, five now? He's the big cat and when he locks in, he is remarkable to watch."
Video: Vasilevskiy makes history as 2021 Conn Smythe winner
It's the 17th time a goalie has won the Conn Smythe since it was first awarded in 1965, and the first since 2012, when Jonathan Quick won it with the champion Los Angeles Kings.
The Russia-born 26-year-old is the first goalie not born in North America to win the Conn Smythe. Vasilevskiy last postseason had 18 wins in 25 starts, with a 1.90 GAA and .927 save percentage.
"His numbers show when there is a loss and you come back the next game his numbers are just unbelievable," Lightning forward Pat Maroon said. "The thing is with Vasy he competes every single night. His work ethic is out of control. You guys don't see that side of it, how he competes, how he works, how he takes care of himself outside the rink. The second and third opportunities, the way he competes in his crease is just truly remarkable. I'm very proud of Vasy. He deserves it. That's why he's the best goalie in the League."
Vasilevskiy said prior to the Cup Final that he took it as a personal challenge to go up against Montreal goalie Carey Price.
Vasilevskiy made 18 saves in Game 1, a 5-1 win; 42 saves in Game 2, a 3-1 win; and 32 saves in Game 3, a 6-3 win. He made 18 saves in Game 4, a 3-2 overtime loss.
"You look at the guy he was going against, let's be honest, the best goalie in my era we just played against, and the best goalie now in this next era is the goalie that just won a Stanley Cup," Cooper said. "I think hockey fans were privileged to watch two generational goalies play tonight. The torch has been passed."