Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Tyler Johnson OK after taking puck to face in warmup

TAMPA — As if the Lightning didn't already have enough bad luck with injuries, it got another scare during warmups Friday.

C Tyler Johnson took a puck off the face, forcing him to head to the dressing room before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins. A shot from a teammate deflected off the post and hit Johnson in the mouth.

"When somebody came in and told me what had happened, it was just almost one of those, you know, I should just expect this to happen," coach Jon Cooper quipped.

But Johnson played, alternating through several different protective masks before settling on a clear shield. And Johnson scored the eventual game-winner late in the second period.

Teammates had no doubts Johnson would play, Cooper joking that the center should take a puck off the face before Sunday's Game 5.

Said LW Ondrej Palat: "He's a warrior."

BISHOP CLOSER: G Ben Bishop continued to make progress in his recovery from a left leg injury, participating in his second straight team skate.

But Bishop didn't play in Game 4 and was noncommittal if he would be ready for Game 5. "We'll see," he said. "Take it day by day."

Bishop, who got hurt in Game 1, worked out on one half of the ice, trying different side-to-side and up-and-down movements. He also faced shots but didn't appear to be moving as quickly or forcefully.

"It's getting better," Bishop said of his range of motion. "(Friday) was better than (Thursday)."

Andrei Vasilevskiy made his third straight start in net, having stopped 82 of 89 shots in his previous two starts, both losses.

STAMKOS WATCH: C Steven Stamkos (blood clot) participated in the optional morning skate, still holding out hope he can return this postseason.

"As I said since Day 1, I wouldn't be working if I didn't think there was a chance," Stamkos said. "There's just also a chance (I) may not (return)."

Stamkos has received multiple medical opinions on whether he can — or should — come back, whether to return he would need to get off blood thinners or use a certain regimen.

Stamkos acknowledged the decision may eventually be up to him as he assesses the risk to his health. He was asked if it's hard not to follow a natural desire to play through it.

"It's a little different when it's pain you're playing through," he said. "I have no pain. It's more frustrating because it's just not safe. I think there's a big difference between playing through pain and playing with your life at risk. It's easier to comprehend with that one.

"I've played through a lot of pain. I don't feel any pain. That's the toughest part, physically feeling ready, just internally not being ready. I can't feel or see that."

ICE OUT: Due to ice issues at Amalie Arena, both teams could only use three-quarters of the ice for morning skates, a bumper divider put in place. The issues were fixed by early afternoon.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Andrej Sustr scored his first goal of the playoffs. … The Lightning went back to a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen, with D Slater Koekkoek back in and RW Jonathan Marchessault out. … Cooper shuffled his lines to start the game, with C Vladislav Namestnikov centering LW Alex Killorn and RW Nikita Kucherov. RW Jonathan Drouin was with Johnson and LW Ondrej Palat.

Times correspondent Roger Mooney contributed to this report.

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