Markstrom, Saros and Shesterkin Voted Vezina Trophy Finalists

NEW YORK (May 10, 2022) – Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames, Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers are the three finalists for the 2021-22 Vezina Trophy, awarded “to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position,” the National Hockey League announced today.

NHL general managers submitted ballots for the Vezina Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winners of the 2022 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced.

Following are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames

Markstrom (37-15-9, 2.22 goals-against average, .922 save percentage) posted a League-leading nine shutouts in 63 appearances, surpassing the eight career shutouts he had recorded over 315 games entering the season. He jump-started the Pacific Division-winning campaign for the Flames (50-21-11) by becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to notch three shutouts in a four-game span (Oct. 21-30), highlighted by a 45-save effort Oct. 28 at Pittsburgh. Markstrom finished third in the race for the William Jennings Trophy, with only the Hurricanes (202) and Rangers (207) sporting a lower goals-against total than the Flames’ 208. Markstrom is an NHL Awards finalist for the first time. He is the first Flames netminder voted a Vezina Trophy finalist since Miikka Kiprusoff (t-3rd) in 2006-07 and is aiming to become the second winner in franchise history, following Kiprusoff in 2005-06.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators

Following five seasons in tandem with Pekka Rinne in the Nashville net, Saros claimed the starter role in 2021-22 following Rinne’s retirement and recorded 38 of the Predators’ 45 wins, the highest percentage (84.4%) among all NHL goaltenders. He backstopped the Predators (45-30-7) to their eighth consecutive playoff berth by leading the NHL in appearances (67), all of them starts, and total ice time (3,931:23); ranking second overall in shots against (2,107) and saves (1,934); and third in wins. The 27-year-old also won three of his four shootout appearances, stopping 11 of 12 attempts for a .917 save percentage. Saros (38-25-3, 2.64 GAA, .918 SV%, four shutouts) is a first-time Vezina Trophy finalist and joins Rinne as the second netminder in franchise history so honored. Rinne was a four-time Vezina finalist, capturing the award in 2017-18, finishing second twice and third once.

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

Shesterkin posted a League-leading 2.07 goal-against average and .935 save percentage, helping the Rangers (52-24-6) reach 110 points, the third-highest total in franchise history. He recorded the seventh-best save percentage among all NHL goaltenders since the statistic was first officially recorded in 1955-56 (min. 25 GP) and became the second Rangers netminder to top the save percentage chart, following Gump Worsley in 1957-58. He went 36-13-4 with six shutouts in 52 appearances, recording his 30th win of the season in his 41st game – the fewest games required in franchise history. A first-time Vezina Trophy finalist, he is the first Rangers netminder voted in the top three since former teammate Henrik Lundqvist, who made five finalist appearances and took home the trophy in 2011-12. Shesterkin is vying to become the third Rangers goaltender to win the Vezina under the current selection criteria (since 1981-82), joining Lundqvist and John Vanbiesbrouck (1985-86).

Did You Know

All three goaltenders are making their debut as Vezina Trophy finalists for the first time since 2014 (Ben Bishop, TBL; Tuukka Rask, BOS; Semyon Varlamov, COL) and for just the third time in the past 32 years (also 2009: Niklas Backstrom, MIN; Steve Mason, CBJ; Tim Thomas, BOS).

History

Leo DandurandLouis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich, former owners of the Montreal Canadiens, presented the trophy to the NHL in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vezina, the outstanding Canadiens goaltender who collapsed during an NHL game on Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later. Before the 1981-82 season, the goaltender(s) of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season was awarded the Vezina Trophy.

Announcement Schedule

The three finalists for the 2022 NHL Awards are being announced through Friday, May 20. The series of announcements continues Wednesday, May 11, when the three finalists for the Calder Trophy will be unveiled.

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Attachments:

VezinaFinalists051022.pdf

Pens chase Shesterkin again, topple Rangers 7-2 for 3-1 lead

BY WILL GRAVES Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Igor Shesterkin toyed with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the regular season. The New York Rangers’ goaltender even waved Sidney Crosby and company off the ice following a shutout victory in early April.

Fast forward a month and Shesterkin’s swagger is suddenly gone. So, seemingly, is the Vezina Trophy favorite’s confidence. Getting pulled twice in three days while the opposing crowd chants your name as puck after puck makes its way behind you into the net will do that.

And now the only thing Shesterkin and the Rangers are threatening to wave goodbye to is their once-promising season.

Crosby had a goal and three assists to become just the sixth player in NHL history to reach 200 career playoff points and the Penguins chased Shesterkin off the PPG Paints Arena ice once again in a dominant 7-2 victory on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Penguins, limited to just four goals in four games by Shesterkin in the regular season, can close out the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

“I think we know we have a lot of work left,” Crosby said. “When you’re in a game like this, you know you’re going to see the other team’s best the next time.”

Maybe, though it wouldn’t take much for New York to improve over an effort in which they let the Penguins pump in five goals during the second period.

“I don’t think you’re going to find a guy who is happy with that performance,” Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “There’s not really a whole lot to say. We know we have to be better to a man.”

Especially the man in net. Shesterkin dazzled during Games 1 and 2 in New York, making 118 combined saves and looking every bit the dominant force that suffocated the Penguins for much of the year.

Not so much anymore. He lasted just one period in Game 3 after giving up four goals. He only made it through two periods in Game 4, spending the third on the bench after surrendering six goals on 30 shots.

New York coach Gerard Gallant pledged to start the 26-year-old Shesterkin with the Rangers one loss away from elimination.

“He’s the best goalie in the league,” Gallant said.

Perhaps, but Shesterkin isn’t playing like it at the moment, though he’s hardly the only one to blame after the Rangers allowed a staggering 14 goals at raucous PPG Paints Arena.

Five of them came during a second period on Monday night in which the Penguins tilted the game — and perhaps ultimately the series — in their favor. Jake GuentzelJeff CarterDanton HeinenMark Friedman and Mike Matheson all found a way to make Shesterkin turn around and fish the puck out of the net as the red goal light blared and the fans derisively chanted “IIIIGOORRRR.”

The goals came in a variety of ways. Tip-ins. Redirects. A lucky bounce. Open shots from the slot. After urging his players repeatedly to stop trying to make the highlight play and simply throw the puck on net, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan’s team appears to be listening.

Pittsburgh has fired 266 shots at the Rangers so far in the series. And while that number is skewed a bit by a three-overtime thriller in Game 1, it’s indicative of a change in mindset.

“We’ve preached to our team all year that we have to evolve and create offense different ways,” Sullivan said. “We can’t get stubborn. We have to take what the game gives us.”

Carter attributed it to better execution and even better effort. This postseason could be the last stand for Pittsburgh’s core three of Crosby, Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. The trio is making their 16th straight playoff appearance together. It could also be their last with Malkin and Letang set to be free agents this summer.

Maybe that possibility has galvanized the Penguins. Or maybe the familiar adrenaline that comes with the Stanley Cup has helped a roster littered with 30-somethings find the fountain of youth. Pittsburgh is on the cusp of winning a playoff round for the first time since 2018.

“We have a veteran group in there and these guys have been through this a lot,” Sullivan said. “So I think everyone understands the position that we’re in and we’ve got to go out and earn the next one. That has to be our mindset.”

While Shesterkin has struggled, Pittsburgh third-stringer Louis Domingue is nearing local cult hero status while filling in for injured All-Star Tristan Jarry. Domingue made 22 saves to win his third game of the series. Not bad for a 30-year-old journeyman making his playoff debut after spending most of the last three seasons in the minors.

While Domingue — with the speakers blasting the chorus of the rock classic “Louie Louie” after particularly big stops — appears to be settling into the rhythm of the postseason, Shesterkin seems rattled.

Two goals 22 seconds apart early in the second period gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead. Two more 39 seconds apart near the end of the period effectively ended Shesterkin’s night and pushed New York to the brink.

NOTES: The victory was Sullivan’s 44th of the playoffs, breaking a tie with former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma for most postseason wins in franchise history. … Crosby’s 201 playoff points are tied with Jaromir Jagr for fifth all-time. Wayne Gretzky is atop the list with 395.