BOSTON (CBS) — For the first time in his six-year career, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has been named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

The Bruins netminder has made a great case to hoist the trophy awarded to the best goaltender this season. Rask finished the regular season with a career-best and NHL-leading seven shutouts, along with 36 wins in 58 games played. Rask’s 2.04 goals against average was good for fourth in the NHL, while his .930 save percentage was second to only Minnesota’s Josh Harding (.933 save percentage in 29 games).

When teams scored against Rask, the goals usually did not come in bunches: He allowed two or less goals in 38 of his 58 appearances during the regular season.

Many felt Rask was snubbed last year after not being nominated following a spectacular season between the pipes. He’s happy to be in the trio of nominees this year, but his focus remains on the ultimate goal and not an individual trophy.

“It’s a great honor to be nominated,” Rask said following Friday’s practice. “You dream about these individual awards when you’re a kid and it’s a good recognition. But everyone knows we’re a team-first team, and it’s just something that comes after the biggest trophy.”

“I feel honored to be nominated and I’m happy to go to Vegas for the first time in my life,” he joked.

Rask’s teammates and head coach were glad to hear the good news this morning.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said head coach Claude Julien. “He’s had such a good year and has been so good for us. He had an unbelievable season. I would have been really disappointed had he not been one of the three nominees.”

“He’s helped us win some games we shouldn’t have and has stopped some great pucks this year,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “He gives us a chance to accomplish what we did in the regular season and hopefully accomplish the ultimate goal in the playoffs.”

The other finalists for the award are Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche.

Rask was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and was acquired by Boston in June 2006 in exchange for Andrew Raycroft.

On Thursday, Bruins forward Patrice Begeron was named a finalist for the Selke Award, given to the NHL forward who demonstrates the best defensive skill.


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