Keeping Ben Bishop fresh key

DETROIT — Ben Bishop, the Lightning's No. 1 goalie, has played 59 games this season, 14 more than in his career when the season began. So it was a mild surprise he played in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Red Wings after playing in Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory over the Sabres.

But Bishop said, "I felt way better (Sunday) than I did (Saturday). I felt loose. I was in the game. It was a big game, and I felt pretty good out there."

How to keep Bishop fresh for the stretch run and an expected spot in the postseason is a key for the Lightning. Not only are his 3,406 minutes fifth in the league, he is nursing a sore right wrist.

"If Ben's not able to go, he's not going to go. We won't put him in a position to harm him," coach Jon Cooper said.

"This isn't a situation where we're saying, 'Hey, Ben, you have to play this game.' He doesn't have to play this game. 'Ben, you're the starting goalie. You come to me if you're not able to play.' "

Bishop's 36 wins are tied for second in the league. He is sixth with a 2.18 goals-against average and is tied for fourth with a .926 save percentage. Sunday's loss was his first in regulation since March 4.

But he also has allowed three or more goals in 10 of his past 13 games (going 7-3-3), with a 2.78 GAA and a .902 save percentage. In the second of back-to-back games he is 3-2-0 with a 3.43 GAA and a .903 save percentage.

"We're monitoring how he's feeling, and he's been fine," Cooper said. "We feel good about having him in there."

GOOD PLAY: Detroit fans wanted a penalty shot 9:17 into the second period after Lightning D Victor Hedman dove to break up speedster Darren Helm's breakaway. Hedman took out Helm's legs, but no call was made. Hedman said the referee told him the play was good because his stick first took the puck away from Helm: "The ref said I got his stick clean."

BETTER PLAY: Gustav Nyquist's sharp-angle goal for Detroit in the first period was notable more for what came before the shot. He kept his balance as he drove the slot while being harassed from behind by D Matt Carle.

Nyquist deked to the right, lost control of the puck, regained it and shot from the goal line to the left of Bishop, who was down and scrambling to recover.

"I just tried to cut in front of the 'D' to get an opportunity to score," said Nyquist, who gave Detroit a 2-1 lead with 4:36 left in the first. "When I saw the puck go over by the goal line, I just turned and shot it."

"He doesn't really have a weakness," said Lightning C Valtteri Filppula, Nyquist's former Detroit teammate. "It kind of looked like the play was over, but he still got a goal out of it. Good players make that happen."

ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay won the season series 4-1-0. It had beaten the Red Wings just five times in 32 previous games. … Filppula extended his points streak to 12 games (five goals, 11 assists), the league's longest current. … Forwards B.J. Crombeen, Ryan Malone, Tom Pyatt and Cody Kunyk, and D Keith Aulie were scratched.

Keeping Ben Bishop fresh key 03/30/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 5:56am]

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