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Bishop skates; Cooper waits to name Lightning starter

by Arpon Basu

CHICAGO -- Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop took part in the morning skate Monday ahead of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), but neither coach Jon Cooper nor Bishop himself would confirm he was starting against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bishop was the first goalie off the ice and was in the road team's net for the skate while Andrei Vasilevskiy was in the home net, which are usually indications Bishop would start.

Bishop held a news conference to discuss his status for Game 3 and said nothing about whether he will play.

"We'll see," Bishop said when asked if he felt well enough to play Monday.

The Lightning's other option is Vasilevskiy, who replaced Bishop twice in Game 2 on Saturday and finished the game with five saves over the final 7:41.

Bishop left Game 2 at 7:17 of the third period when Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp took a high-sticking penalty and returned at 8:49 when Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison scored what turned out to be the winning goal. Bishop exited again for good with 7:41 remaining.

Bishop would not comment on why he was forced to leave Game 2, nor would he elaborate much on the decision-making process of whether he will play Game 3. But he said he is already preparing as if he will play, even if he doesn't know.

"You start preparing the whole time," Bishop said. "You don't really stop preparing, even on days off. You're still prepared, so it's just one of those things where you'll be ready no matter what."

Bishop even made light of how little information he was giving when he said he felt like Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who took to repeating the same phrase to answer all questions in his interviews with the media prior to Super Bowl XLIX.

Cooper was not much more forthcoming.

"I don't know who is starting," Cooper said. "I will find out after this media session. We have two capable goalies and we have 100 percent confidence in who is going to play. That's all I can say. One of them is playing. It's [Vasilevskiy] or [Bishop]. That will be determined tonight."

Though all regular signs at the morning skate pointed to Bishop being the starter, Cooper played coy in regards to which net Bishop guarded.

"Is there a starter's net?" Cooper said. "I think each goalie has the net he likes to go to. I didn't know there was a starter's net. I was never a goalie, so I don't know how they think."

Lightning forward Alex Killorn was encouraged to know Bishop playing was even a possibility, but like Cooper he feels that either goalie gives his team a chance to win.

"We're pretty happy in a sense that we have two definitely able goalies," he said. "[Bishop] has been our horse the whole year, but we realize that Vasilevskiy, if he needs to come in, he's going to be able to come in and help us out. I don't know what's happening. I guess [Bishop] is playing tonight, or whatever. We're excited. He gives us confidence when he's in the net."

Bishop was on the ice for the morning skate as soon as the Zamboni finished cleaning it and stayed out for approximately 15 minutes before leaving. The Lightning's third goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis, then came on and finished the skate in Bishop's place. Bishop did not appear to be limited as he took shots and stretched with his teammates.

"Whoever is in net, we'll be fine," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We're not going to change the way we play."

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