PITTSBURGH — Considering how bad it looked Friday night, goalie Ben Bishop carried off the ice on a stretcher, some wondered whether his season was over.
Turns out, Bishop's series may not be over.
The Lightning got encouraging news Saturday. General manager Steve Yzerman said Bishop is day to day with a lower-body injury sustained in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins. Bishop's availability for Monday's Game 2 was unknown, but he seemed unlikely to play.
The injury could have been much worse.
"Everything has been really good so far on Ben," coach Jon Cooper said. "Much better news than the scene we saw, what happened when he was carted off. Still, as far as any playing plans, I have no answer yet."
There was no clear answer on what the injury actually is, though Bishop grabbed his left leg in obvious pain after falling in his crease with seven minutes left in the first period. Bishop's stick got tangled with Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist behind the net, then his right skate got caught on the ice, leading to an awkward fall.
Bishop was taken to a hospital, where X-rays were negative and nothing wrong "structurally" was found, Cooper said.
Tampa Bay found a way to beat the Penguins 3-1, buoyed by backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had an impressively poised 25-save performance. Vasilevskiy will start Game 2 if Bishop can't.
"That's why I'm here," Vasilevskiy said.
Kristers Gudlevskis served as his backup.
The Lightning has a ton of confidence in Vasilevskiy, 21, who is considered one of the game's top young goalies. Vasilevskiy got valuable experience in last season's Stanley Cup final, starting Game 3 against the Blackhawks after Bishop tore his groin.
Cooper dubbed Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist as the league's top goalie, and Vasilevskiy a "1A and 1B" tandem this season. That, along with the team's experience in last year's run to the Cup final, helped create calmness on the bench.
That doesn't mean Bishop being carted off wasn't a scary sight.
"Regardless of who it is on your team, when the stretcher comes out on the ice, I think there's a natural concern when that happens," Cooper said. "I think also the game kind of goes from a game to, 'Oh, my gosh, this is serious.' So I think there was a moment there where there was probably concern on everybody's part."
The Lightning remained unwavered, as Cooper put it, as it was in winning the first two rounds of the playoffs without captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured leg).
"We just hope this is the end," Cooper said of the injuries. "And, you know, we're able to get all these guys back because you've heard me talk many times before, let's not let this be Stralman's last game, Stamkos … Bishop, all these guys. If we're going out, we're all going out together. Keep hanging around."
And Friday might not have been Bishop's last game of the season. At least that's what Tampa Bay hopes.