NEW YORK — Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop made some spectacular saves during Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over the Rangers. But the moment that defined his return to the lineup was one that seemed downright boring.
It happened with 3:21 left in the third period during a Rangers power play. New York players swirled in front of the net. The Madison Square Garden crowd was going crazy and Derick Brassard let go a shot through traffic that had trouble written all over it.
Bishop gloved it like it was no big thing.
"As you can see, he was feeling it," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "You talk to any coach, your bench feels it as well."
"He plays with such confidence," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "It's great to have him back."
Bishop was back after missing four games with a sprained right wrist, and his 33 saves preserved the one-goal lead built in the second period by Hedman and Nikita Kucherov, who tied a franchise record by scoring two goals in nine seconds.
The win ended a stretch of eight games, seven on the road, in which Tampa Bay (28-15-4) went 5-3-0 and with 60 points tied the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division.
It was a terrific response to a morning tongue-lashing by Cooper, who was livid after his team gave up two power-play goals in the third period of Monday's 3-2 loss at Columbus.
Bishop's save on Brassard came on New York's second power play of the third period. Bishop made five saves during those penalty kills. During the second, the Lightning blocked four shots.
"They made a commitment to win a hockey game," Cooper said. "They were blocking shots, and when things got by them Bish was there for us."
"I feel good," said Bishop, 23-5-3 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. "The guys are playing good in front of me. A goalie can't be successful without the guys in front of him, so big tribute to them. I just have to make some saves here and there and they do the rest."
"The rest" included Hedman's power play goal 1:10 into the second period — his 10th goal of the season — that tied the score 1-1.
Nine seconds later, Kucherov, off a perfect pass from Radko Gudas, scored on a breakaway, deking to his forehand to push the puck under goalie Henrik Lundqvist for his seventh goal and third winner.
The rest was up to Bishop, who stopped Chris Kreider on a breakaway 5:48 into the first period and made 11 saves in the third.
"He played a fantastic game," Kucherov said. "He had so many saves. He's a good goalie."
First Period—1, N.Y. Rangers, Richards 12 (Callahan, Hagelin), 11:55. Penalties—None.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Hedman 10 (St. Louis, Purcell), 1:10 (pp). 3, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 7 (Gudas, Brown), 1:19. Penalties—Callahan, NYR (high-sticking), :29; Kreider, NYR (hooking), 4:17.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Gudas, TB (tripping), 6:37; Killorn, TB (tripping), 15:21. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-10-6—25. N.Y. Rangers 11-12-11—34. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 2; N.Y. Rangers 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 23-5-3 (34 shots-33 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 15-17-3 (25-23). A—18,006 (18,006). T—2:29. Referees—Dean Morton, Chris Rooney. Linesmen—Jay Sharrers, Mark Shewchyk.