Saturday, September 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Jon Cooper sticks with Lightning goalie plan

With goalie Ben Bishop on a roll and coming off a shutout, you would have thought he would be the starter Friday in a measuring-stick game against the Western Conference-leading Wild.

You would have been wrong.

Andrei Vasilevskiy started in St. Paul, Minn., and the move paid off. He was impressive with 37 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss. Coach Jon Cooper said before the game that though Bishop has played well, he wants to keep both goalies fresh. The start was Vasilevskiy's first in eight days. "Both of our goalies play. They're both good," he said. "Our plans we've had in place all year, we're not deviating from it. Obviously 'Bish' had a shutout (Tuesday against the Kings), but Bish played (two games) in a row, gave us a chance to win, and we did (both games), and now it's 'Vasy's turn. We've got full confidence." The Lightning could have decided to start Bishop against the stronger Wild and Vasilevskiy tonight at Winnipeg, giving both a game before its five-day bye week next week. But it has often chosen this year to play Vasilevskiy in the first of back-to-back games, when the team is fresher.

Biggest mystery

What is ailing center Tyler Johnson (below)? He was out Friday with an undisclosed injury and was doubtful for tonight's game in Winnipeg. He was the only Lightning player to have appeared in the team's first 53 games before getting hurt in Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Kings. Johnson missed Thursday's practice due to "body maintenance," the team said then. He tried to participate in Friday's morning skate but left early. Don't expect him tonight. "With such a quick turnaround, he'll have to do some massive healing," Jon Cooper said. The Lightning did get wings Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat back from injury Friday.

Number of the day

8 Times wing Erik Condra has been recalled from AHL Syracuse this season, the latest being Friday

Quote of the day

"Put bugs in their helmets."

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, joking about how he got to learn about his players in his first year with team

Slap shots

. Congratulations to Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who passed Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman for most games coached in the NHL, head or assistant: 2,165.

. Considering how good the line of Michael Bournival-Cedric Paquette-Gabriel Dumont was, you wonder why Bournival was sent to Syracuse on Wednesday after an upper-body injury. Jon Cooper said that with Bournival's last game being Jan. 25, it wasn't right for his first game back to be in the NHL.

. Still get chills walking by the statue of the late Herb Brooks in front of Xcel Energy Center, which has one of the NHL's best atmospheres.

   
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