DENVER — Lightning G Ben Bishop always has said the bumping and jostling he takes in the crease is not a big deal. But after he was repeatedly run into and knocked down in Saturday's victory over the Stars — without one penalty call — coach Jon Cooper made protecting Bishop a point of emphasis.
"Part of our job is don't let guys get near 'Bish' at all," Cooper said before Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Avalanche. "And when that happens, make sure whoever that culprit is knows that isn't going to happen again and there is going to be some retribution."
That didn't happen against Dallas, though Cooper said the problem was that incidents occurred while play continued, "and you can't do it if they have the puck buzzing around your net."
There also is concern about putting the team at risk by taking retaliatory penalties. Bishop said: "You don't ever want to go a man down. That's not worth it to me."
"But sometimes there's such a thing as taking a good penalty," Cooper said. "If a good penalty is going to straighten another team out, so be it. Maybe the good penalty comes in the sense of what is going on in our side of the rink starts happening at their end of the rink. Sometimes that starts to change the tide a little bit."
LW Ryan Malone called Bishop a natural target because of how well he has played. Bumping is an attempt to get him off his game, and that is going to only increase as playoff races tighten. "So it's our job as teammates to give him protection as best we can," Malone said. "He's a big boy and can take care of himself, but we don't want it to come to that."
"If it gets out of control," Bishop said, "I'm sure the guys will take care of it."
GUDAS HURT: D Radko Gudas, favoring his left leg, left Sunday's game in the second period after a collision with an Avalanche player.
Gudas skated briefly when Tampa Bay came on the ice to start the third period but returned to the locker room with what the team said is a a lower-body injury.
MORE MEDICAL MATTERS: Valtteri Filppula missed his fourth game because of a displaced fracture of his right ankle . The center, injured Feb. 6 against Toronto, said the ankle feels "close to being good enough" but also at times feels weak when he skates. "That's the worry," he said. "I feel it needs to feel like I can take full turns and full strides before coming back." Filppula, with 20 goals, 41 points in 56 games, hopes to play Tuesday at St. Louis.
HOMECOMING: George Gwozdecky said his wife and daughter would be at Sunday's game, but Tampa Bay's first-year assistant coach said the game at Denver was like any other.
"I don't think the game has any more significance personally than any game we've played," he said. "Now, if we were playing (the University of Denver), that'd be something else."
Gwozdecky coached 19 seasons and won two national titles at Denver before he was fired last summer. The Lightning hired him in August. He is the eye in the sky during games. "It's always nice to go home," he said.
ODDS AND ENDS: D Mike Kostka got his first Lightning points with assists on Nate Thompson's two goals Sunday. … C Tom Pyatt received from the Avalanche six sticks used by his father, Nelson, who played for the old Rockies from 1976-80. … Prospect and University of Minnesota G Adam Wilcox is one of 18 finalists for the Mike Richter Award, given to the NCAA's top goalie. Wilcox, 21, a sophomore, is 21-4-5 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. … D Keith Aulie and RW B.J. Crombeen also were scratched.