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Vasilevskiy out 2 months after back surgery

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will begin the 2023-24 campaign without their workhorse goaltender, as Andrei Vasilevskiy will miss approximately two months after undergoing back surgery on Thursday, the team announced.

He underwent a microdiscectomy to address a lumbar disc herniation. The timeline means he'll likely miss the first 20 games of the regular season.

Head coach Jon Cooper initially described Vasilevskiy's injury as day-to-day and didn't view the ailment as a long-term issue.

Vasilevskiy is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and the 2019 Vezina Trophy recipient. He led the league in wins in five of the last six seasons. The 29-year-old posted a .915 save percentage and a 2.65 goals-against average in 60 games last season.

Since becoming the Lightning's full-time No. 1 goalie in 2017-18, Vasilevskiy has appeared in 433 regular season and playoff games - 30 more than the netminder with the next most.

Jonas Johansson, 28, is the Lightning's backup goalie. The journeyman owns an .887 save percentage in 35 career NHL games. He was stellar with the AHL's Colorado Eagles last season, posting a .920 save percentage in 26 appearances.

Hugo Alnefelt, 22, and Matt Tomkins, 29, are the only other goalies under contract with the Lightning, but they have just one game of NHL experience combined. It's possible the Lightning will look outside the organization to add a goalie to pair with Johansson in Vasilevskiy's absence.

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