Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was activated off injured reserve Friday and will make his season debut against the host Carolina Hurricanes later in the night, coach Jon Cooper announced.
Vasilevskiy underwent surgery to repair a lumbar disk herniation in his back in September. Jonas Johansson (8-4-5, 3.41 goals-against average, .894 save percentage) made the bulk of the starts in his absence, with Matt Tomkins adding three appearances before being placed on waivers.
Vasilevskiy, 29, posted a 34-22-4 record with four shutouts, a 2.65 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 60 games (all starts) last season with the Lightning.
The 2018-19 Vezina Trophy recipient and a two-time Stanley Cup champion, Vasilevskiy is 263-123-28 with 32 shutouts, a 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage in 425 career games (415 starts) with Tampa Bay.
Having Vasilevskiy available again will undoubtedly boost the Bolts. He has been Tampa's backbone throughout a successful five-year run that included back-to-back Stanley Cup championships (the latter of which, in 2020-21, earned Vasilevskiy Conn Smythe Trophy honors) and another Cup Final appearance in 2021-22 in a losing effort against Colorado.
All that work eventually caught up to Vasilevskiy. Last season, his numbers were below his usual high standard, and when the playoffs rolled around, Vasilevskiy and the Lightning were ousted in a six-game first-round series against Toronto.
Information from ESPN's Kristen Shilton and Field Level Media was used in this report.