TAMPA — When it comes to injured Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, the bottom line is this:
"He's in a lot of pain, that kid," coach Jon Cooper said.
So much so that Cooper said it was not until four minutes before the puck dropped Saturday night, after Bishop survived warmups, that the decision was made to put him in net.
Bishop was outstanding with 31 saves in Tampa Bay's impressive 4-2 victory over the Red Wings before an animated sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum that was close to half-filled with red-clad Detroit fans.
"Everything started with him," Cooper said, "and worked its way up from there."
It was a huge win for the Lightning (33-20-5), which had lost four of five, had just three regulation goals in its previous three games and lost much ground in the Atlantic Division.
In fact, had Tampa Bay lost, it would have entered the Olympic break in fourth instead of second.
But Alex Killorn's winning goal with 3:11 left broke a 2-2 tie after he did hard work behind the Detroit net to get the puck to Tom Pyatt in a corner.
Killorn went to the net and whacked in the rebound of Pyatt's sharp-angle shot for his 14th goal of the season. He celebrated with a windmill fist pump on bended knee.
"I knew it was a pretty big goal," Killorn said. "I got really excited and kind of blacked out."
Pyatt's goal, his first of the season, was just as big as it tied the score 2-2 with 2:46 left in the second period when his backhand, after a charge to the net, deflected in off a Detroit player's stick.
All that was sandwiched inside Ondrej Palat's second-period power play goal that tied it at 1 and his empty-net goal that sealed the win.
"They competed harder around the front of the net at the end of the game," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Lightning. "You can't have guys be more determined than you."
And that brings us back to Bishop, who has dealt with a right wrist problem for a month and who left Thursday's game with the Maple Leafs with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
That was why warmups were so important.
"He said, 'I'm going to gut this one out,' " Cooper said. "I know how much pain he's been in. It was an unreal gutty effort by him."
Bishop's biggest stop in his 28th victory this season came with 1:33 left in the second when he robbed Daniel Alfredsson from in front to preserve the 2-2 tie.
"The crowd was real into it, probably one of the louder games all year, so it was fun to play," Bishop said. "And it was nice to win when there was all that red in there."
First Period—1, Detroit, Alfredsson 14 (Datsyuk), 17:18. Penalties—Kronwall, Det (high-sticking), 9:54.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Palat 13 (St. Louis, Hedman), 1:44 (pp). 3, Detroit, Jurco 3 (Sheahan, DeKeyser), 11:19. 4, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 1 (Salo, Brown), 17:14. Penalties—Jurco, Det (boarding), 1:09; Thompson, TB (high-sticking), 9:00; Carle, TB (tripping), 15:10.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Killorn 14 (Purcell, Pyatt), 16:49. 6, Tampa Bay, Palat 14 (Johnson, Salo), 18:57 (en). Penalties—Purcell, TB (tripping), 5:55. Missed Penalty Shot—Kucherov, TB, 18:24 third. Shots on Goal—Detroit 14-12-7—33. Tampa Bay 10-11-7—28. Power-play opportunities—Detroit 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 2. Goalies—Detroit, Howard 12-13-9 (27 shots-24 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 28-8-4 (33-31). A—19,204 (19,204). T—2:27. Referees—Gord Dwyer, Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen—Scott Cherrey, Mark Shewchyk.