TAMPA — Ben Bishop was back in net for the Lightning's 4-2 win Thursday against the Sabres, having missed three weeks with a lower-body injury.
And that was welcome news for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who needed a break after starting nine straight games in Bishop's absence.
"I think even the best goalies in the world, they need some days off from games, for sure," Vasilevskiy said. "Because it's tough to handle many games in a row."
Vasilevskiy admitted his numbers were "rough" in his first stint as a No. 1, going 3-5-1 with a 3.78 goals-against average and an .876 save percentage. But a lot of that had to do with how the team played in front of him. And Vasilevskiy, 22, believes the experience will benefit him the next time he's in the starting role.
He said his biggest lessons were learning how to rest more between games — doing treatment instead of extra workouts — and turning the page mentally.
"When you're playing more games in a row, it's actually real tough for your mind," he said. "Especially after bad games, next game you try to handle your thoughts because it's tough to be in focus for all 60 minutes. You start thinking about the last game or … the future. That's one of the most important, if not the most important: If you're strong mentally, it's going to be much easier."
MARTY MANIA: Marty St. Louis received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena as he came out for the ceremonial puck drop. It should be a taste of what St. Louis will experience tonight when his No. 26 is retired in a ceremony before the game against the Blue Jackets.
"I'm definitely nervous," he said. "I've practiced my speech in front of three, four people. Now I get to execute in front of 19,000 people watching. Nobody prepares you for these things. You just do the best you can and enjoy it."
The ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. Ex-Lightning coach John Tortorella, now with Columbus, is scheduled to speak first, followed by commissioner Gary Bettman, GM Steve Yzerman, owner Jeff Vinik and C Steven Stamkos. "I'm thrilled," Tortorella said. "You're not going to be able to get me off that stage."
HIS TURN: C Gabriel Dumont made his season debut, the 33rd player to appear in a game for the Lightning this season. Coach Jon Cooper said Dumont might have been recalled earlier from AHL Syracuse had he not had injuries. Dumont said he missed two weeks at the start of the season with a groin injury, then four weeks for an oblique injury. "It was hard, because (the Lightning) had so many injuries and seeing everybody getting called up," Dumont said. "But what am I supposed to do?"
Dumont, signed to a one-year deal July 1, got a chance to play because RW Ryan Callahan was sidelined for a second straight game due to a nagging hip issue. Coaches told Dumont to bring Callahan's type of energy on the fourth line. "Just be in on the forecheck, creating turnovers, being hard to play against," Dumont said. "Every time you go on the ice, try to bring a little spark.
NUTS AND BOLTS: C Brian Boyle, who missed four games with a lower-body injury, was back in the lineup. So was D Braydon Coburn (upper body), who had missed two. D Luke Witkowski was scratched. … Two representatives from expansion Vegas were in attendance. The expansion draft is in June; the team begins play next season.