TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop(Ben Bishop Jersey), who suffered a left-knee/leg injury early in Game 1, will not be in the starting lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Coach John Cooper, however, remains optimistic that his star goaltender will return during the best-of-seven series, which is tied 1-1 after Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime victory over Tampa Bay on Monday night in Pittsburgh. Games 3 and 4 will be played in Tampa on Wednesday and Friday.
Bishop, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender, was in full gear before the team’s morning skate Wednesday. Cooper is hopeful that Bishop could rejoin the Lightning for a full practice as early as Thursday.
“We are, but hopeful is the key word,” Cooper said.
Bishop fell awkwardly in his crease and was taken off the ice on a stretcher midway through the first period of Game 1 on Friday. X-rays came back negative.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, who earned a 3-1 victory Friday and took the loss Monday, will start Game 3 for the Lightning on Wednesday. Kristers Gudlevskis will serve as the backup.
With the two teams playing every other day now until the end of the series, it does create some challenges in getting Bishop back, Cooper acknowledged.
“I think when you’re playing every other day it’s tougher for anybody to come back,” Cooper said Tuesday. “But ultimately whether it’s one day, two days or three days, if he’s ready to go he’s ready to go and I don’t think an extra day is going to help out. He’s making progress every day, so hopefully you’ll see him soon.”
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was not on the ice Wednesday morning and will also miss Game 3 as he continues to recover from surgery to remove a blood clot in his right collarbone area. He has not played at all in the playoffs.
The Lightning will get rugged forward Ryan Callahan back, though, as he has recovered from the flu that kept him out of Game 2.
“He’s a lot better than he was,” Cooper said of Callahan. “That kid is tough as nails. He actually had a really good line. He said last year I played a game three days after getting my appendix out and this year I can’t even play through the damn flu.”