Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy returns to crease against Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs will have to contend with Andrei Vasilevskiy as he will be between the pipes for the first time since November 10th. Steve Stamkos and Jon Cooper are thrilled to have the former All-Star back with the team.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will return to the crease Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, according to Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

Vasilevskiy, 24, hasn’t played since Nov. 10 due to a left foot fracture, but was a full participant in Lightning practice Wednesday.

“It’s not as much the injury as it is the cardio and how he’s feeling in that respect,” said Cooper on Wednesday. “I’ll sit down with him in a little bit and see how he feels, but he looked good out there.”

In 13 games this season, Vasilevskiy is 9-3-1 with a 2.30 goals against average and a .927 save percentage, including one shutout. In his absence, goalie Louis Domingue has been sound, posting a 14-4 record with a 2.95 goals against average and a .905 save percentage, though the Lightning will still welcome the return of their No. 1 netminder.

“He’s been our MVP for a long time here on this team,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos Thursday morning. “I know it was tough for him to watch all those games, but Louis stepped up and the guys played great in front of him as well. We can’t have that let down now, obviously because he’s an elite goaltender, but we want to maintain the play that we’ve had.”

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