TAMPA — When Lightning goalie Ben Bishop got hurt Tuesday night, backup Andrei Vasilevskiy was asked if he was ready to take over if the injury sidelined Bishop for a prolonged period.
"That is why I'm here," Vasilevskiy said.
Vasilevskiy, 22, gets his first extended chance to be a No. 1 goalie now that Bishop is out three to four weeks with a lower-body injury, the team announced Wednesday. Kristers Gudlevskis was called up from AHL Syracuse and is expected to back up Vasilevskiy, starting tonight against the Blues at Amalie Arena.
It's a bad break for Bishop, 30, who left Tuesday's game against the Red Wings with eight minutes remaining in the first period after making a seemingly harmless right pad save. But the injury could be worse for the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, who can be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The recovery timetable puts him back in mid January, giving him enough time to play so his value at the March trade deadline wouldn't be significantly impacted.
A four-day Christmas break starting Saturday helps.
Vasilevskiy, signed to a three-year contract extension July 1, is considered the Lightning's future No. 1. He has been impressive to start the season, going 7-4-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average in his first 14 games.
"The kid is ready," veteran center Brian Boyle said. "He's a pro."