Just when it appeared the Lightning’s reign as Stanley Cup champions might be nearing its end, Andrei Vasilevskiy banished those gloomy prospects.
The veteran goaltender made 24 saves in Thursday’s 3-1 victory over the Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Vasilevskiy has backstopped three straight wins this series, flipping an 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 lead to remain on track for a third consecutive title.
The highest-paid player on the Lightning — thanks to an eight-year, $76 million extension in 2019 — has been at the forefront of Tampa’s bid to become the first true NHL dynasty in decades.
- He’s the fifth-fastest in NHL history to reach 60 career postseason wins (97 games).
- He has allowed two or fewer goals in 47 of those 60 wins, and one or fewer in 31.
- After yielding nine goals over Games 1 and 2, he’s allowed only four since.
The 27-year-old led NHL goalies in regular-season victories (39) for the fifth consecutive time and is the reigning Conn Smythe winner for playoff MVP — though he has the fourth-best odds to retain the latter (+475).
Colorado is favored (-200) to lift the Cup, but with Vasilevskiy on top of his game, the Lightning (+200) could challenge the 1983-90 Oilers (5 in 7 YRS) and 1979-83 Islanders (4 in 4) for long-term dominance.