Ben Bishop could play Thursday or Friday
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop could be returning sooner than expected.
Bishop participated in his first full team skate Tuesday, and looked good during two separate 30-minute sessions.
While the initial goal was for Bishop (lower body) to be back by the California trip early next week, Cooper said Bishop could play either Thursday (vs Buffalo) or Friday ( Columbus).
"I'm really encouraged," Cooper said. "Bish has been fighting his way to get back. There might be a Bishop sighting one of these two games."
Bishop got hurt Dec. 20, and was expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Tuesday marked the three-week mark. Vasilevskiy has started all nine games since, going 4-4-1.
"That would be really big for us, in a sense to take a little bit of a load of (Vasilevskiy) and getting Ben back for the second half is big for us," Cooper said. "He's worked hard to get his way back and hopefully we see him in one of these games."
The Lightning could also see Brian Boyle, who missed the last four games with a lower body injury. Boyle said he came through Tuesday's skate fine, and is hopeful to return Thursday. Defenseman Braydon Coburn (upper body), who missed the last two games, practiced. Cooper said it's more of a "pain tolerance" thing with Coburn.
Veteran wing Ryan Callahan (lower body), who didn't play Sunday in Pittsburgh, also didn't skate today. Cooper indicated it wasn't a precaution, that if Callahan could go, he would have practiced. It seems like that nagging surgically-repaired hip is still bothering Callahan.
"What gets frustrating is he fights his way back and he's out again," Cooper said.
Also, wing Ondrej Palat left the first part of practice after taking a high stick to the mouth. Cooper
"It didn't look good when he went off," Cooper said. "I'm not saying it's something that's going to cost him games, but his mouth was in a different state than it was when he went on for practice. Now it's moved from guys getting hurt in games to getting hurt in practice. But hopefully he's going to be okay."