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Bishop's injuries a concern for Lightning

Debut: Lightning center Vlad Namestnikov, recalled from AHL Syracuse, played 11:55 against Detroit in his first NHL game.
Debut: Lightning center Vlad Namestnikov, recalled from AHL Syracuse, played 11:55 against Detroit in his first NHL game.
Published Feb. 9, 2014

TAMPA — For the third time in a month on Thursday, Lightning G Ben Bishop left a game with an injury.

"That's something you don't see often," coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't know if I've ever seen that, actually."

"Clearly there is a concern," he said about his No. 1 being banged up. "To start games and not finish when I'm not the one giving him the hook … he's having health issues, for sure."

That concern played itself out before Saturday's 4-2 win over the Red Wings. Cooper said he might warm up Bishop, Cedrick Desjardins and Kristers Gudlevskis (called up from AHL Syracuse as insurance) before naming a tandem. As it turned out, only Bishop and Gudlevskis warmed up, and Bishop got the start.

None of that diminished the worry about Bishop, who left the Jan. 5 game at Edmonton with a wrist injury, the Jan. 30 game at Ottawa after he was inadvertently kicked in the head by teammate Nikita Kucherov and Thursday against the Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury.

"Ben doesn't pull himself out of games because he doesn't want to play," Cooper said. "He's pulling himself out of games because it's extremely painful to play. So the Olympic break (which begins today) is probably going to help him."

Tampa Bay is expected to get back C Steven Stamkos (leg) and C Valtteri Filppula (ankle) after the break, which Cooper said will also be welcome for "a bunch of other guys who are on the cusp of not playing (Saturday) but are going to gut this one out."

Most notable of that group probably is C Tyler Johnson, who has been limping since taking a puck off his left foot Tuesday against the Wild.

Asked if the time off is expected to heal Bishop, Cooper said, "Let's hope so. I would imagine he's going to feel much better in two weeks."

Game time: As if playing his first NHL game wasn't big enough, C Vlad Namestnikov got to play against the Red Wings, the team he idolized growing up in a Detroit suburb and for which his uncle, Slava Kozlov, played.

"It's really special," said Namestnikov, 21, the No. 27 overall pick of the 2011 draft who was called up from Syracuse because of Filppula's injury. "I mean, there are so many emotions and so many thoughts, there are just too many. Just try to settle down and enjoy my first games."

Namestnikov, 5 feet 11, 171 pounds, who had 13 goals, 30 points in 31 games for the Crunch, played with J.T. Brown and Kucherov, a successful line at Syracuse. He did not get a shot but had a hit and a takeaway, and was 3-for-6 on faceoffs. He said he was "shocked" at first at how faster the game is in the NHL.

"But I settled down," he said. "The nerves settled down, too."

"I couldn't have asked for more," Cooper said. "I thought he was outstanding. He did everything we asked. You would never know it was his first NHL game."

Odds and ends: Kucherov failed on his second penalty shot of the season. … LW Ondrej Palat's second-period goal broke the Lightning's 0-for-17 streak on the power play. … The game was the 6,000th in Red Wings history. …Detroit C Pavel Datsyuk's had an assist for his 800th career point. … Lightning D J.P. Cote cleared waivers and was reassigned to Syracuse. … Because of the Olympics, rosters are frozen until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 23.