There was no official word Friday that Anders Lindback would start in goal for the Lightning tonight against the Penguins at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
But with Ben Bishop day to day with a lower-body injury sustained in Thursday's 7-2 win over the Panthers and Cedrick Desjardins called up from AHL Syracuse, the odds seem pretty good he will.
That would be unfortunate for Bishop, who has won three in a row during Tampa Bay's 3-1-0 start, but a chance for Lindback to get back into the race for the No. 1 job.
"I have to prove myself every time I have a chance to get in there and help the team win," said Lindback, who hasn't played since a 3-1 opening-night loss Oct. 3 at Boston.
"It's all about the team. It's about winning. I'm just going to try my best to contribute as much as possible. If it works out, I hope, and believe, I will get a lot of ice time."
"We were going to rotate our goalies anyway at some point," coach Jon Cooper said. "The big thing is we've got great goaltending the first four games, and if this continues, it's really going to help our cause."
Bishop, 3-0-0, has a 1.93 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage, but he seemed to show discomfort Thursday after reaching with his right leg to try to stop Jonathan Huberdeau's third-period goal.
Bishop briefly stayed down on the ice but finished the game and, according to Cooper, "said he was fine. But (overnight) I think things tightened up on him."
General manager Steve Yzerman called the injury "very minor" but "just enough" for the team to be careful.
Lindback played well against the Bruins, with 22 saves on 25 shots. Bishop, as scheduled, got the next start at Chicago and stole a 3-2 shootout win with 37 saves. Because Cooper believes in going with the hot hand, Bishop continued to play.
Lindback has worked in practice on his mechanics and readiness, a mental challenge when one doesn't know when one's next start will come.
"It's definitely tough at times," Lindback said. "I find it's so much easier when you get to play a bunch of games in a row. You kind of get into a rhythm."
As a backup, he said, "it's a matter of seeing practices as a game. You work hard and try to get better. It's that simple. I find it's good for my confidence. If you play good in practice, you take that feeling into a game."
"There's one thing I will never doubt about Anders is his work ethic," Cooper said. "If there is one thing that guy brings every day, he pulls out the card and punches the clock. It's going to get him starts and make him a better goalie in the end."
Right now, though, he's a goalie who needs a chance to show what he can do.
Cooper has said he would be fine if Bishop and Lindback split the 82-game season equally. Ultimately, though, every team wants a No. 1, and so far, Bishop has grabbed the spotlight.
"I want to play every game," Lindback said. "I never find it fun to sit on the side. We've been playing great, but I want to play and help the team win."
He might get his chance tonight.
MOVE:Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, called up to the Lightning from ECHL Florida for Friday's practice, was sent to Syracuse when Desjardins was recalled.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.
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Lightning vs. Penguins
When/where: 7; Tampa Bay Times Forum
TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM
Key stats: The Lightning is 1-6-0 against the Penguins the past two seasons, with six straight losses, and has been outscored 34-19. Tampa Bay's last win in the series was Nov. 11, 2011, at the Times Forum. ... Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin has 10 goals, 14 points in his past five games against the Lightning. ... Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury was tied for second in the league entering Friday among goaltenders with at least two games with a 1.00 goals-against average. His 27 road wins since the start of the 2011-12 season are tied for the league lead with the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist.