1. Lightning

Crazy-bounce goal part of tough game for Lightning's Bishop

Published Dec. 9, 2016

TAMPA — G Ben Bishop was asked Thursday morning about his recent run of solid outings. He credited the play of the defense in front of him and the fact he hasn't experienced crazy bounces that led to goals during the early part of the season.

And then the game started.

Bishop allowed four goals in two periods during the Lightning's 5-1 loss to the offensively challenged Canucks.

Starting his third consecutive game for the first time this season, Bishop allowed a goal by F Jack Skille 3:50 into the game.

No big deal, Bishop said. The Lightning dominated play up until that point.

The second goal, six minutes later, can be filed if not under crazy then in the next folder.

Canucks D Erik Gudbranson fired a shot from inside the blue line. It went past Bishop to the outside of the net, struck the back board and ricocheted directly back toward Bishop, who tried to cover it with his glove. Instead, the puck hit the outside of the glove and deflected into the net.

"Just an unfortunate play," he said. "We got off to a pretty good start. Just an unfortunate bounce. Nothing you can really do about it except keep going."

Coach Jon Cooper said not to read anything into the fact Bishop started the past three games. He said the team needed someone to make the big saves and Bishop did that during the previous two games.

That didn't happen Thursday. Bishop allowed four goals on 20 shots. He was pulled after the second period for Andrei Vasilevskiy.

THEY'RE BACK: RW Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed) and D Jason Garrison (lower body) returned to the lineup. Drouin, who scored his fourth goal of the season in the second period, missed one game, and Garrison two. RW Ryan Callahan (lower body), considered probable by Cooper, was scratched for the fifth straight game. Callahan has said his surgically repaired hip has been nagging him but was encouraged after Monday and Tuesday skates.

UP AND DOWN: D Luke Witkowski joked that it felt like had never left, getting recalled from AHL Syracuse on Wednesday, a couple of days after getting sent down. But Witkowski, who recorded his first NHL point Thursday, has also not left the lineup, playing his third straight game. D Nikita Nesterov and D Slater Koekkoek were healthy scratches. "He's a gamer," Cooper said of Witkowski. "One of the things on the back end, we've got some talented players back there, but need to be a little bit harder and that's what he brings. He's one of those guys the other team knows when he's on the ice, because he will make you pay physically. He's done nothing for us to pull him out of the lineup, and we're not going to."

FITTING IN: F Joel Vermin said it was an honor to play on a line with C Tyler Johnson and LW Ondrej Palat. But Vermin's top-six spot was a reward for his impressive play the past three games after getting recalled. Vermin said he's more confident than his six-game stint last season. "The game has slowed down for him a little bit," Cooper said. "He's got way more confidence making plays."


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