TAMPA (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to extend their winning streak to eight straight games and remain unbeaten in the month of December, and will get a giant piece of their defense back to do so.
Head coach Jon Cooper said Thursday that Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in net when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to Amalie Arena to take on the Lightning to end three-game homestand. Vasilevskiy missed 14 games after suffering a broken foot during practice November 14.
"He's got to get that first one in at some point," Cooper said after Thursday morning's optional skate. "There was thought that we might play him the prior game [Monday against the New York Rangers], but get him a really good practice yesterday. He did really well and tonight's the night."
Vasilevskiy's teammates are excited about the Vezina Trophy finalist's return.
"Yeah it's awesome," forward Brayden Point said. "Obviously, [he's] a huge part of our team. It's good to see him healthy and expect him top have a great game."
"He's been our MVP for a long time here on this team," captain Steven Stamkos said. "I know it was tough for him to watch all those games. Louis [Domingue] really stepped up and played great."
Domingue played 13 of the 14 games missed by Vasilevskiy, going 11-2 with a 2.77 goals against average and a .912 save percentage He also earned the NHL's second start of the week for the week ending December 9.
But just because the team has gotten their top netminder back doesn't mean they can slack off in what has kept the team on the roll they're on.
"We can't have that let down now just because he's back," Stamkos said. "Obviously, he's an elite goaltender, but we want to maintain the play that we've had. We can't just think that he's back and he's got it covered. He does, most of the time, but we'll look to continue playing the right way."
Face-off is set for 7:30, and can be heard on NewsRadio 970 WFLA.
Listen to comments from Cooper, Stamkos and Point below!