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NHL - US Sports: Vasilevskiy earns praise of teammates

Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos has praised netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy after he helped his side go 2-0 up in their Eastern Conference Second Round series with the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning, 10/39 to progress past the Panthers and 4/1 to win the Stanley Cup for a third time in a row, had a combined 68 saves from Vasilevskiy to win the first two games of the series, both on the road.

Game 3 on Sunday

With the series shifting to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Sunday, forwards Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and defenceman Mikhail Sergachev all hailed the 27-year-old goalie known as 'The Big Cat'.

Standing 6'3", Vasilevskiy has started all nine of Tampa Bay's playoff games this season recording a .915 save-percentage and 2.60 goals-against-average.

Described by Stamkos as one of the most competitive people he's met, Vasilevskiy allowed a surprising three goals or more in each of the first six games in round one against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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However, after each defeat he rebounded with a victory extending his run to 17-0 following losses since the start of the 2020 playoffs.

Including 30 saves in a 2-1 Game 7 victory against the Leafs, Vasilevskiy has stopped 98 of the past 101 shots fired at him with Sergachev saying: "sometimes [pucks] go in, but in the big games you see why he's the best goalie in the league."

Conn Smythe Trophy

Vasilevskiy won the Conn Smythe Trophy, voted as the most valuable player in the playoffs last season, when he was 16-7 with a .937 save-percentage and 1.90 goals-against-average leading the Lightning to a back-to-back championship.

Kucherov concluded to the media: "'Vasy' is always there and he's our best player in the playoffs, regular season. He brings 100 percent effort every single game and everybody's just trying to take his energy and bring it to your game."

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