OTTAWA — Few NHL coaches are bigger fans of Lightning goalie Ben Bishop than Ottawa's Dave Cameron.
Bishop, 29, was in the Senators organization for a few years before he was shipped to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline in 2013 for wing Cory Conacher, a deal Senators fans no doubt regret. And Cameron recognizes Bishop's place among the game's best, as an All-Star named Wednesday to U.S. World Cup roster.
"I don't want to take anything away from Tampa's team," Cameron said. "But you're not an elite team without an elite goalie, and Ben is that."
Bishop continued to remind the Senators of that in Thursday's 4-1 win at the Canadian Tire Centre. Bishop made 33 saves in a tight game before two late Tampa Bay goals put it away, improving to 9-0-3 in his career against the Senators.
The Lightning (38-22-4) tied a franchise record with its eighth straight win, a mark set in the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning run. And Bishop, along with backup Andrei Vasilevskiy (11 wins), are big reasons for the streak. Tampa Bay has allowed a combined eight goals in the past seven games.
"This is probably the best I've seen (Bishop)," captain Steven Stamkos said. "And that's saying a lot considering he's been one of the top goalies in the league for a while now.
" 'Bish' was there (Thursday) when we needed him. That's why he's an elite goalie. You don't win eight in a row without your goaltender."
Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2014, should warrant consideration for the award again this season. His 2.06 goals-against average is the best in the league. His record, 26-17-3, would be a lot better had he not lost 10 starts in which he allowed two goals or fewer.
"I'm playing pretty well right now, obviously," Bishop said. "I'm trying to keep it consistent. It's a long season. There's going to be ups and downs. Right now it's an up, and I'll try to enjoy it while it's there."
The Lightning, despite having an Anton Stralman goal disallowed in the first period due to a goalie interference coach's challenge, took a 2-0 lead on goals by Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat in the second period. But the Senators made a strong push, and a Marc Methot goal cut their deficit to 2-1 5:24 into the third. But Bishop preserved the one-goal lead until late goals were scored by Nikita Kucherov and Stamkos.
"Everyone knows what kind of impact (Bishop) has," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "He's a world-class goaltender. He's an All-Star, a World Cup player. He's one of the best goalies in the league. It's a huge confidence boost having him back there."
Bishop said he set a goal at the beginning of the season to make the World Cup team for September's tournament, and he earned a spot. "A huge honor," he said.
Bishop said there's always motivation facing a former team but he can't explain his success against the Senators and has no ill will toward them.
"I came up through (the organization)," he said. "Those guys worked hard with me. It was a process. I feel fortunate to be in the situation I am. But I owe a lot to those guys."
And so may the Lightning.
First Period—None. Penalties—Callahan, TB (holding), 19:29.
Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Paquette 5 (Brown, Hedman), 4:14. 2, Tampa Bay, Palat 8 (Johnson), 18:33. Penalties—Gomez, Ott (hooking), 7:57; Boyle, TB (roughing), 11:09; Condra, TB (cross-checking), 11:09; Neil, Ott (roughing), 11:09; Stralman, TB (holding), 16:19.
Third Period—3, Ottawa, Methot 3 (Smith), 5:24. 4, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 25, 18:14. 5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 29 (Stralman), 19:46 (en). Penalties—Garrison, TB (holding), :59. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-11-9—29. Ottawa 10-11-13—34. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 1; Ottawa 0 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 27-17-3 (34 shots-33 saves). Ottawa, Hammond 3-7-3 (28-25). A—17,943 (19,153). T—2:27. Referees—Chris Lee, Mike Leggo. Linesmen—Ryan Gibbons, Derek Nansen.