Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Ben Bishop, Lightning shut out Devils

TAMPA — There were times during his past few games, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop admitted, that he seemed to lose focus.

Okay, not so much focus, he continued, as "the awareness" of what was going on around him.

Either way, the solution to overcoming a skid in which he was 1-2-2 with a 3.31 goals-against average and .878 save percentage was the same: "to not have," he said, "even a two-second lapse."

Bishop came close Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with 23 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Devils, his franchise-record 31st win, before 19,204.

"It's a nice accomplishment," said Bishop, who surpassed Nikolai Khabibulin's record of 30 set in 2002-03. "A whole lot of credit to the guys in front of me. I don't get that without them, so it's a team thing."

Tampa Bay (36-24-7), which has won consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 23-25 and seems to be coming out of a prolonged downturn, had much to feel good about.

B.J. Crombeen and Mike Kostka scored in the second period with assists from Valtteri Filppula. Nate Thompson scored in the third, and the Lightning had 32 shots against a team that was allowing a league-low average 25.4.

The defensive structure, disjointed during a 5-8-2 stretch, also was solid.

"We weren't giving up odd-man rushes. We were coming back as a pack," coach Jon Cooper said. "I told the guys the way we played not only wins games in the regular season, it wins games in the playoffs."

But the best news for the Lightning was Bishop's fifth shutout of the season and eighth of his career as he showed the form that for most of the season had him, statistically, in the league's top five.

"That's where you're watching the growth of Ben Bishop," Cooper said. "He wants the next start. He's not shying away from it."

He was at his best in the first period, stopping point-blank shots by Michael Ryder and Dainius Zubrus and a Zubrus rebound try from in front of the net off a save of Andy Greene's slap shot.

"On top of making the saves he's supposed to, he steals a few that maybe he shouldn't," Kostka said. "That gives us all the confidence in the world to play in front of him."

"But one game is not going to change anything," said Bishop, 31-11-6 with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. "You have to come in and do the same thing Monday (against the Canucks)."

"I wasn't happy with myself," he said of his past few games. "I felt like I might have let the guys down a bit."

Against the Devils, he picked them up.

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First PeriodNone. PenaltiesGudas, TB (delay of game), 5:31; Zubrus, NJ (interference), 12:21; Gudas, TB (diving), 12:21; Ryder, NJ (roughing), 19:52.

Second Period1, Tampa Bay, Crombeen 3 (Kostka, Filppula), 12:26. 2, Tampa Bay, Kostka 4 (Palat, Filppula), 16:58. PenaltiesZubrus, NJ (holding stick), 15:14; Purcell, TB (hooking), 15:14.

Third Period3, Tampa Bay, Thompson 9 (Brown), 16:41. PenaltiesBrown, TB (goaltender interference), 9:12. Missed Penalty ShotBrown, TB, 11:19 second. Shots on GoalNew Jersey 6-9-8—23. Tampa Bay 9-14-9—32. Power-play opportunitiesNew Jersey 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 0 of 1. GoaliesNew Jersey, Brodeur 17-12-4 (32 shots-29 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 31-11-6 (23-23). A19,204 (19,204).

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