Ben Bishop leaves injured in Lightning victory

TAMPA

The play, when it happened, didn't look like much at all.

Ben Bishop dove to glove a floating puck early in the first period of Tuesday night's game with the Maple Leafs and fell to the ice.

But then he grabbed for his left arm, rolled on his side and did not get up.

Several minutes later, the Lightning goaltender, the team MVP, skated off in obvious pain and with help from head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan, his left arm stiff against his body.

On a night when Tampa Bay's 3-0 victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum should have been celebrated, the talk was of the potential loss of perhaps the team's most important player.

"Let's just wait and see what happens here," coach Jon Cooper said. "There's no sense speculating or doing any of the social media. He's either going to be ready or not."

Of course, it is not that simple.

Tampa Bay (43-27-9) has just three regular-season games left before the playoffs. And even the thought Bishop might be unavailable is cause for great concern.

It also is another potential test of a team that already survived the loss for 45 games of star center Steven Stamkos because of a broken right tibia.

"We need to face adversity one more time," defenseman Victor Hedman said.

Against Toronto, Tampa Bay did as backup Anders Lindback, who had played just three games since Jan. 13, was outstanding with 25 saves.

Rookie left wing Ondrej Palat scored twice in the second period, once on the power play. Hedman added an empty-net goal, and the team rebounded from a two-game losing streak in which it was outscored 9-3.

The Lightning is now just two points behind the second-place Canadiens in the Atlantic Division. The teams almost certainly will meet in the first round of the playoffs and the higher finisher will get home ice.

The Maple Leafs were eliminated from the playoff race.

"We just showed against a desperate hockey team that if we play within our structure that it doesn't matter who we put in net," Cooper said. "Make the saves you have to make and let the boys do the rest."

"I don't think I had a rebound all game," Lindback said. "They were really taking care of everything; a great performance by the guys."

And a great performance by Lindback, who was at his best in the final minute of the second period when he made a left-leg stop on Phil Kessel's semi-breakaway and gloved Jake Gardiner's wrist shot with 17.5 seconds left to preserve the 2-0 lead.

"Obviously it feels good," said Lindback, who is 6-12-2 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. "But it's one game, too. You can't hang your hat on it. You have to keep going to get better."

It would have been easy to sag when Bishop left the game after extending to catch the floating puck and landing on his left (glove) hand and arm.

"When Bish went down nobody flinched," Cooper said. "We got up a little bit on the bench. There was no panic in our guys or anything. They know how hard Lindy has worked."

"We made sure we were there for him and played great defense," Hedman said. "We had to keep our shifts short and had great help from the forwards as well."

Even if Bishop's injury is not serious, Cooper said Lindback will get the start Thursday against the Flyers. A goaltender also will be brought up from AHL Syracuse, though that already had been in the works, Cooper said.

"He was confident in net," Cooper said of Lindback. "He was seeing the puck, making plays. And when we needed the saves, he made them. He was a really confident goalie and our team was feeding off it."

Lightning 0 2 1 3
Maple Leafs 0 0 0 0

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesCarle, TB (tripping), 3:45; Sustr, TB (high-sticking), 15:55.

Second Period1, Tampa Bay, Palat 21 (Hedman, Gudas), 9:19. 2, Tampa Bay, Palat 22 (Stamkos, Hedman), 15:45 (pp). PenaltiesKillorn, TB (hooking), 9:53; Bodie, Tor (tripping), 15:38.

Third Period3, Tampa Bay, Hedman 13, 19:47 (en). PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalToronto 10-11-7—28. Tampa Bay 11-12-11—34. Power-play opportunitiesToronto 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 1. GoaliesToronto, Reimer 12-15-1 (33 shots-31 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop (3-3), Lindback 6-12-2 (5:43 first, 25-25). A18,896 (19,204). T2:31. Referees—Tom Kowal, Tim Peel. LinesmenRyan Galloway, Shane Heyer.

Ben Bishop leaves injured in Lightning victory 04/08/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 12:25am]

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