TAMPA — Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.
Vasilevskiy was named after helping 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 Final at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
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.
“I think we might be taking for granted how good he really is, and he’s been proving it here now for a number of years,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, “and I think he’s just getting started.”
Vasilevskiy was 16-7 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .937 save percentage this postseason.
He is the first goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy since 2012, when Jonathan Quick won it with the champion Los Angeles Kings, and the 14th in history.
It is the 17th time a goalie has won the Conn Smythe Trophy since first awarded in 1965. Patrick Roy won it three times, with the Canadiens in 1986 and 1993, and with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001; and Bernie Parent won it twice with the Philadelphia Flyers, in 1974 and 1975.
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. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
He was 14-0 following a loss the past two postseasons.
“It’s all about the experience and how your team is playing in front of you,” Vasilevskiy said. “The last two playoffs we’ve been pretty consistent throughout all four rounds. When the team is playing like this in front of you, you get lots of confidence from them and just try to help them however you can, just try to be at your best every night for the guys.”
In 23 starts this postseason, Vasilevskiy allowed two or fewer goals in 14, including one or fewer in 11, and had a .900 or better save percentage in 17.
“Night in and night out, the backbone of this team,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Can’t say enough good things about him.”
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.
“Somebody has to be the best,” Cooper said. “I think torches get passed, and Carey, he’s still carrying the torch, but it’s getting passed to guys like ‘Vasy.'”