Niemi a finalist for Vezina Trophy

Niemi a finalist for Vezina Trophy
May 8, 2013, 10:15 am
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Antti Niemi is the second Sharks goaltender to be nominated for the Vezina (Evgeni Nabokov, 2008). (AP)

Antti Niemi has been named as one of three nominees for the Vezina Trophy as voted by the NHL’s general managers, the league announced on Wednesday. Niemi is up for the award as the league’s best goaltender with the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist and Columbus Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky.

This is the first time Niemi, 29, has been nominated for the award. He finished tied for the NHL league lead in wins (24), posted a 2.16 goals-against average (11th) and .924 save percentage (seventh), while playing the most minutes (2580) of any goaltender in the league.

Niemi, in his third season with San Jose, was named by the local media as the Sharks’ Player of the Year in the team’s final home game on April 23. He was named as the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on March 31, going 4-0-0 with two shutouts.

He became the first goaltender in Sharks franchise history to post back-to-back shutouts on consecutive nights in wins against Detroit and Anaheim on March 27-28, and started 24 consecutive games from March 9 through Apr. 23.

Niemi is the second Sharks goaltender to be nominated for the Vezina (Evgeni Nabokov, 2008).

Bobrovsky posted a 21-11-6 record for Columbus, with a 2.00 GAA and .932 SP. Lundqvist, who won the award last season, was 24-16-3 with a 2.05 GAA and .926 SP.

This is the first time all three Vezina finalists are European. Niemi will attempt to become just the second native of Finland to win the award, joining Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff (2006). The winner will be announced during the upcoming Stanley Cup Final.