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Practice Notebook: Back To Being Ben

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

Saturday not only marked the first time Ben Bishop has won back-to-back games since January, but it was the first time since re-opening the 2013-14 campaign that the Tampa Bay Lightning netminder was completely dominate in net.

"He's been that guy who has given up two or less this year," head coach Jon Cooper said. "And to bounce back like he did from his last few starts just shows his progression."

"I wasn't really happy with the way I've been playing," Bishop said. "After giving up one extra goal the last few games, I was really happy it didn't happen tonight."

The bounce-back performance Saturday also helped him earn the single-season franchise record for wins (31), as the 27-year-old continues to show he's been a major factor in the Bolts' success.

"You see where we are in the standings," Valtteri Filppula said. "He's a huge part of it. He kept us in a lot of games where we didn't think we had a chance the whole game, then we were able to win."

Former Lightning goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin, had previously held the record with 30 wins during the 2002-03 season.

Bishop now sits at third in the league in that category, while his fifth shutout of the year ties him with Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonas Hiller for second in the NHL.

"It's a nice accomplishment," Bishop said. "But a whole lot of credit goes to the guys in front of me."

As his first season as a true starting goalie, Bishop has not just proven by his statistics that he is up to the task, but with 15 games left in the regular season he feels physically and mentally good.

With the ability to turn their homestand around thus far, collecting points in four straight contests, it will be important for Bishop and the Lightning to finish off Monday strong.

"It's turned into a good homestand," Cooper said. "But we can make it a great one with points against the Canucks. We need to continue to take care of business at home."

Vancouver head coach John Tortorella, who coached the 2003-04 Stanley Cup-winning Lightning, will be at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Monday when the Bolts celebrate the 10th anniversary of their championship.

Malone Makes His Case In Return

Ryan Malone saw himself as a healthy scratch for four straight games, but drew back into Saturday's lineup along with B.J. Crombeen.

Cooper said the two did exactly what was expected of them and was happy to seem they improved upon playing well in their own end.

"It just gives you balance throughout the lineup," Cooper said. "We need that from everybody. For guys that haven't played in a few games, it was great to see them come up with that effort; it was a full team effort."

Malone finished Saturday's contest with 10:06 of total ice time and was plus-1, while Crombeen logged 10:47 and scored one goal that ended up being the game-winner.

Kucherov In And Out Of Lineup

Nikita Kucherov was back in the lineup Thursday night after the coaching staff decided to have the rookie observe a pair of games from the press box while going through a dry spell.

At the time Kucherov had recorded just one assist over nine games.

Though logging 10:09 of total ice time in the next contest, Kucherov was a minus-2 and was scratched again Saturday.

Frustrated and losing some of his confidence he earned earlier in the year, Kucherov leaned on assistant coach Steve Thomas for advice.

"Thomas talks to me a lot," Kucherov said. "He tells me how he was feeling during times like this in his career. He said I need to listen to everyone and just take this game-by-game."

The coaching staff has not hesitated to say that Kucherov is a highly skilled asset to the Bolts.

The situation is very similar to what the Lightning did with Steven Stamkos during his rookie season in 2008-09. During that campaign there were multiple occasions when Stamkos went five or more games without a point, causing him to watch a few games from the press box as part of the education process.

  • Bishop, Filppula, Stamkos and Nate Thompson all exercised body maintenance days Sunday.
  • Forwards Ondrej Palat (three goals, four assists) and Filppula (one goal, six assists) extended their point streaks to four games, while blueliner Mike Kostka has five points since joining the Bolts (seven games).
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