TAMPA — For most of this first-round series, goalie Ben Bishop had flown under the radar.
Sure, Bishop had been good — very good — but he hadn't stole a game for the Lightning yet.
Then came Thursday.
Bishop put a sloppy Tampa Bay team on his back with a spectacular 34-save performance and the Lightning moved on to the second round with a 1-0 win over the Red Wings in Game 5, the sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena chanting his name at the end. After a 4-1 series win, the Lightning goes to the Eastern Conference semifinals to face the winner of the Panthers-Islanders series, which is tied 2-2.
As wing Ryan Callahan said, "If it wasn't for (Bishop), we'd probably be going back to Detroit right now."
Said coach Jon Cooper: "If you give our team a C (for its Game 5 performance) and you give Detroit an A, the problem is Bishop got an A-plus, and an A-plus trumped the A. And that's why we got lucky on that one."
Despite getting outshot 34-24 and outplayed for a good portion of the game, Tampa Bay found a way to win, scoring with 1:43 left on a goal by Alex Killorn; it was the Lightning's first even-strength goal since Game 2. Callahan made the play happen with a spectacular forecheck, stealing the puck from goalie Petr Mrazek behind the net and feeding Killorn in the crease.
"It's pretty hard to describe what goes through your head," Callahan said. "It's as close as I think you can feel to getting an overtime winner without being in overtime."
The Lightning was fortunate to be even close to overtime. Its passing was brutal, with 17 giveaways. It got controlled in the faceoff circle, losing 56 percent of the draws. Its power play, which racked up three goals in a Game 4 win Tuesday, was 0-for-4. And it was loose defensively, allowing three breakaways in what Cooper dubbed a "dreadful" second period.
"We kept coming and coming and coming," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.
But Bishop, a strong contender for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie with a league-best 2.06 goals-against average in the regular season, bailed out the Lightning.
"You look for a goalie to keep you in it, and in a lot of sense he won us that game," Killorn said. "Second period, (three) breakaways and (if) they score on one, it's a completely different game."
Bishop said that with his team scoring three or more goals in the first three wins, it was his turn to step up. "I just tried to keep the team in the game as long as I can," he said.
He did that so many times in the regular season. Cooper said the 6-foot-7 goaltender would come to the bench and say, "I've got this, boys."
Cooper said Bishop didn't need to do that Thursday. "We felt bad for him. We were doing this to him," Cooper said.
The Lightning coach said it reminded him of Game 7 in last year's first round against Detroit, when Bishop had a 2-0 shutout. Of Bishop's four playoff shutouts, three have clinched a series. Bishop finished this series with a 1.61 goals-against average and .950 save percentage, buoying a penalty kill that went 24-for-25, including a kill in the final minute Thursday.
"This game was, in a nutshell, I feel like, for the whole year," Lightning center Valtteri Filppula said. "I don't think we played our best, but (Bishop) kept us in the whole way. I can't say enough."
First—None. Penalties—Tampa Bay bench, served by Drouin (too many men), 3:41; Garrison, TB (cross-checking), 4:27; Nyquist, Det (slashing), 9:06; Kronwall, Det (hooking), 19:21.
Second—None. Penalties—Larkin, Det (tripping), 2:53; Quincey, Det (hooking), 9:47; Hedman, TB (holding), 14:01.
Third—1, Tampa Bay, Killorn 3 (R.Callahan), 18:17. Penalties—Garrison, TB (cross-checking), 19:16. Shots on Goal—Detroit 9-14-11—34. Tampa Bay 8-6-10—24. Power-play opportunities—Detroit 0 of 4; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. Goalies—Detroit, Mrazek 1-2-0 (24 shots-23 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 4-1-0 (34-34).