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Gudlevskis starts for Lightning as Bishop finally rests

Kristers Gudlevskis starts against the Blackhawks, his first NHL action in 18 months.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Kristers Gudlevskis starts against the Blackhawks, his first NHL action in 18 months.

CHICAGO — G Kristers Gudlevskis was naturally excited to get called Saturday to start against the Blackhawks, his first NHL action in 18 months.

But Ben Bishop was also glad to get a break, having played in the Lightning's first eight games. Bishop said he has been dealing with a minor injury he didn't specify the past four or five games, so it will help him to have a few days off before Tuesday's game in St. Louis. Bishop said the injury is not related to the torn groin he suffered in the Stanley Cup final last season.

"I've had a pretty good run there," Bishop said. "It's been a grind, but I wouldn't want it any other way."

Bishop takes pride in being a workhorse. His 150 regular-season and playoff games played from the 2013-14 to 2014-15 seasons are the third highest among NHL goalies, the Elias Sports Bureau said. Chicago's Corey Crawford had played 154, the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist 153.

With uncertainty at backup as Andrei Vasilevskiy remains sidelined following vascular surgery, Bishop has carried a heavy load. But with Vasilevskiy expected back at practice Monday, help is on the way for Bishop, one player the Lightning can ill afford to lose.

Gudlevskis, recalled from AHL Syracuse on Saturday, will be the backup for the short term. Kevin Poulin was put on waivers Saturday.

Coach Jon Cooper said Gudlevskis was more "game-ready," having made two strong starts for the Crunch, stopping 53 of 55 shots. Gudlevskis said the games gave him confidence but he didn't know when he'd get an NHL call. "You never really expect that," he said. "So it's always good to hear."

Cooper said Poulin was claimed off waivers in late September so the Lightning could "protect ourselves" with Vasilevskiy out and Gudlevskis dealing with an upper-body injury. "(Poulin has) done everything we've asked of him," Cooper said. "Just hasn't played games."

BOYLE OUT: C Brian Boyle was scratched for the second straight game with an undisclosed injury, though Cooper said Boyle is day to day and the issue isn't long term.

Boyle doesn't sit out often — he snapped a streak of 263 consecutive games in Game 1 of last season's Eastern Conference final — but Cooper said this injury involves something that has "lingered with him in the past."

RW J.T. Brown was scratched. Nikita Nesterov was in as seventh defenseman.

JOHNNY BE GOOD: C Tyler Johnson entered Saturday's game as the only Lightning forward without a goal. But he wasn't discouraged, having racked up a team-high 22 shots and 27 scoring chances, including a couple of partial breakaways Friday against the Jets.

"You have to laugh," Johnson said. "That's all you can really do. It's pretty ridiculous. Those things happen. … You go in slumps, but you always bounce back somehow."

Johnson did that last season, when he began with one goal in his first 12 games but finished with 29.

"I'd be lying if you're going to say you're not frustrated," Johnson said. "All that really matters is you're getting the chances. If I wasn't getting chances or our line wasn't playing well, that's when you really got to look in the mirror and really start to question yourself.

"But right now, it's one of those things that just something needs to happen and just work your way out of it."

Gudlevskis starts for Lightning as Bishop finally rests 10/24/15 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2015 10:05pm]
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