OTTAWA -- Steven Stamkos was on the ice again for the Tampa Bay Lightning's morning skate Thursday ahead of the game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
With Stamkos attempting to recover from a broken right leg in hopes of being able to play for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said he understands the scrutiny of his center's health at every stop the Lightning make in a Canadian city.
"He's battling to get through and I guess you can't rush the genetics, the healing process and everything that goes on, but every day it gets another day closer," Cooper said. "Eventually it's going to have to come down to a situation where he's going to have to start battling with guys in the corner just to see how those instinctive movements go and is he going to feel it, because he can do all the crossovers he wants out there and have fun and go up and down without those battles, but that's where it's going to come into play and so eventually it's going to have to happen here soon because we're running out of time.
"The one thing we've said from the beginning, though, he will not put his health at risk to go to the Olympics. I know that's his top priority, to make sure he goes over there, but his health will override that."
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will make his first appearance in Ottawa since the Senators traded him to Tampa Bay on April 3, 2013, for forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick.
Bishop, who is 26-7-4 in 39 games, compared the Lightning's loss of Stamkos on Nov. 11 to the major injuries Ottawa battled through last season on its way to making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"When [Stamkos] went down that's the first thing I thought of was last year with all the injuries Ottawa had. And so I've dealt with it before and I think it brings the team closer together," Bishop said. "We were successful last year in Ottawa; we've been successful here in Tampa."
The 6-foot-7, 214-pound goalie is among the NHL leaders in wins, goals-against average (1.99), save percentage (.933) and shutouts (four).
"He's allowed us to play with a lot of confidence in front of him," Lightning captain Martin St. Louis said. "We have a lot of young players and your goalie will hide a lot of little mistakes."
Bishop has won each of his three starts against the Senators since the trade, including two this season in Tampa Bay.
"[Bishop] has played well against us and pretty much every other team in the League this year," Ottawa captain Jason Spezza said. "He's having a good year. He's a big guy. He plays deep in his net and relies a lot on his reflexes and size and athleticism, so I think we have to do a better job of getting some traffic and little tips and screens and kind of plays off his pads."
Senators defenseman Chris Phillips will miss his second straight game because of a lower-body injury.
"We'll see where it is [Friday] before we leave on the trip to see if he'll go with us," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said.
Here are the probable lineups for the Lightning and Senators:
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Martin St. Louis
Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Teddy Purcell
J.T. Brown - Nate Thompson - Nikita Kucherov
Ryan Malone - B.J. Crombeen
Victor Hedman - Sami Salo
Matthew Carle - Radko Gudas
Eric Brewer - Mark Barberio
Scratched: Keith Aulie, Tom Pyatt
Injured: Steven Stamkos (leg)
Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Mika Zibanejad
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Cory Conacher - Stephane Da Costa - Erik Condra
Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson
Marc Methot - Eric Gryba
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci
Scratched: Joe Corvo, Matt Kassian
Injured: Chris Phillips (lower body), Mark Stone (upper body)