LOS ANGELES — G Ben Bishop feared the worst Saturday night.
The stick blade of Sharks C Tomas Hertl somehow pierced through Bishop's mask and hit him in the right eye midway through the third period of a 4-3 Lightning win. There was immediate pain and blurred vision. It's something that had never happened to Bishop before.
"It was pretty scary," he said. "Some ooze or water came out right away, and I thought my eye was falling out."
Fortunately for Bishop, and the Lightning, he suffered no serious damage, no scratches or vision loss. He had just a cut on the eyelid, and Bishop lobbied to start Sunday against the Kings, saying he was ready to go.
Andrei Vasilevskiy started, but Bishop replaced him 39 seconds into the second period after Vasilevskiy gave up a long-range goal 12 seconds after the Lightning had tied the score at 1.
The injury "could have been a lot worse," Bishop said. It happened on a "really fluky play." With the mask goalies wear, "you have to have the perfect angle, the right height, right angle" to get a stick blade through one of the holes in the cage. He didn't blame Hertl, who was battling with RW J.T. Brown in front of the net when it happened.
"Obviously (Hertl) had no idea what he was doing," Bishop said.
Bishop looked pretty frantic when it happened, racing out of the crease, taking his mask and blocker off. He was attended to by team medical personnel before leaving the ice and being replaced by Vasilevskiy.
Bishop's contact lenses popped out, and he had some blurred vision. But a doctor gave him eye drops, which helped, and he slowly started to feel better. By the end of the game, he was giving high-fives to teammates as they entered the locker room.
Bishop remembered watching on TV in November when Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury got hit in the eye by a stick from Pittsburgh D Ben Lovejoy.
Joked Bishop: "Another one of those situations where you ask yourself, 'Why do you play goalie?' "
Bishop said he would see an eye doctor when the team returned to Tampa as a precaution — Sunday was the end of the road trip — but he didn't think the injury would affect how he plays.
STAMKOS ON PK? In the final minute Saturday, with the Lightning clinging to a one-goal lead and the Sharks threatening with an extra attacker, C Steven Stamkos made a huge sliding block on a slap shot by D Brent Burns, clearing the zone.
"Do whatever it takes, right?" Stamkos said.
That apparently includes playing on the penalty kill.
Stamkos rarely logs shorthanded shifts, but he played two minutes on the penalty kill Saturday. Coach Jon Cooper pointed out that with several key penalty killers hurt for the game (Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette and Tyler Johnson) and a lack of right-shot faceoff men, Stamkos was needed. Though Stamkos was surprised to get the call, he'd welcome more opportunities on that special teams unit. He averaged 12 seconds of shorthanded ice time last season.
"I try to pay attention to those penalty-kill meetings for when your name is called out there," Stamkos said. "I feel, especially (Saturday), it really got me into the game. Sometimes you get a couple shifts there can really jump-start your game."
JOHNNY BE GOOD: Johnson (undisclosed injury) made a surprise return to the lineup against the Kings, having not played since getting hurt on the first shift Nov. 27 in Washington. The Lightning needed Johnson because RW Erik Condra, who scored his first goal in 19 games Saturday, was scratched due to a lower-body injury. He was considered day to day. LW Joel Vermin was in the lineup, with D Nikita Nesterov scratched.
SILVER ANNIVERSARY: Sunday was the 25th anniversary of the Lightning franchise's birth. "Do you believe it's gone this fast?" founder Phil Esposito said. Esposito said he was given a 1991 bottle of chianti shortly after getting the expansion team, and he finally opened it on Thanksgiving this year to toast the anniversary. Esposito, a Hall of Famer and Stanley Cup winner, called starting the team his greatest achievement in hockey.
NUTS AND BOLTS: RW Nikita Kucherov scored two highlight-reel goals Saturday, his first multigoal game of the season. … The Sharks had eight power plays Saturday, scoring on three.