TAMPA—Andrei Vasilevskiy has been perfect in just over two games. He didn’t allow a goal in back-to-back games for the first time this season on Thursday and Saturday and now holds the team record for career shutouts.
He offered a not to Ben Bishop, who had held the record, saying he’s proud to have passed such a good goalie with his 18th shutout in the 3-0 win over Montreal.
Vasilevskiy and Bishop still talk regularly. Bishop was disappointed not to have the opportunity to play against his former protégée on Thursday. He’d like to have gone head-to-head.
Even though Bishop must have known Vasilevskiy was the young goalie coming after his starting spot, but he worked with him and helped Vasilevskiy grow. He saw this coming.
“Fans the last six years have been pretty fortunate to first get to enjoy Ben Bishop and how he helped our franchise and then to see Vasilevskiy,” coach Jon Cooper said. “Vasy’s taken the baton and kept it going. It’s great watching Vasy come into his own in this league at such a young age (he took over the starting role at 22). I couldn’t be happier for him.”
His prowess is such that Lightning fans didn’t mind saying goodbye to Bishop, one of the team’s most beloved players, when it chose to make Vasilevskiy its No. 1 and traded Bishop two years ago. Fans don’t usually take trades like that well.
Vasilevskiy doesn’t take much credit. Two shutouts in row? His play “wasn’t bad.” Getting the record “is cool.”
That’s OK, Steven Stamkos will take care of the praise.
“I think he’s gotten better as the season’s gone on,” Stamkos said. “I thought coming back from that injury, he wanted to get dialed in right away. You see his work ethic in practice, you see his preparation for games. He’s just so competitive. He wants to make every single save and the last two games he has. And it’s obviously fun to be a part of that because it makes our job easier to go out and just have to get one.”
Vasilevskiy has made 56 saves in the 125:49 since he allowed his last goal (late in Tuesday’s win over Calgary). He had 20 on Saturday, 32 in Thursday’s win over Dallas, and four in the final four minutes on Tuesday.
“He’s in the zone right now and it’s great to be a part of,” Stamkos said.
Saturday’s first two periods featured a goalie duel between Carey Price and Vasilevskiy, the old guard and new guard of the NHL’s top goalies. In the end, Vasilevskiy was the victor.
Back in November, when Vasilevskiy made 34 saves to Price’s 32 in a 4-1 Lightning win, Vasilevskiy was asked about being on the same level of one of the NHL’s greatest. He declined to put himself there, saying Price had many great seasons and he had only the one.
Vasilevskiy may demur from putting himself in that upper echelon, but others have no problem doing it for him.
“I think he’s going to be one of the best goalies in the world for the next 10, 15 years,” Bishop said. “He’s that good. He’s a special talent, a good guy, he’s a good kid and I’m really happy to see him doing as well as he is.”
Times staff writer Mari Faiello contributed to this report.
Contact Lightning beat writer Diana C. Nearhos at tampabay.com and follow @dianacnearhos on Twitter.