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Bishop says he's ready to start for Stars against Blues in Game 7

Goalie left Game 6 after taking puck to collarbone

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Ben Bishop was not going to let a throbbing collarbone keep him from helping to determine the outcome of the Dallas Stars season.

The goalie skated at the Stars' practice facility on Monday, then pronounced himself ready to start Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS).

Bishop wore a huge grin as he arrived at the airport terminal for the team's afternoon flight to St. Louis. It was a far cry from the anguish etched on his face as he writhed in pain on the ice after being nailed by a shot from St. Louis defenseman Colton Parayko in the third period of the Blues' 4-1 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Stars series coverage]

 

"I'm good, I'm good … I just took one pretty hard there and that's it. Move on. Get ready for Game 7," Bishop said.

"You have padding (there), but it doesn't matter when the guy has probably the second-hardest shot in the League. It's all right though. Obviously, didn't turn out the way we wanted to and we have an opportunity to play a Game 7. Obviously, got to go out there and do our job."

Video: Bishop on getting nod in Game 7 after injury scare

American Airlines Center went silent when Bishop lay flat on his back after being plunked by Parayko. He remained practically motionless when forward Jaden Schwartz scored to put the Blues up 3-1 seconds later but was able to continue after being treated by training staff for about five minutes.

He eventually came out of the game when Blues forward Sammy Blais blasted one by him at 8:10 of the third, 33 seconds after the Schwartz goal. Backup Anton Khudobin replaced Bishop and finished the game. 

Coach Jim Montgomery was optimistic after the game that Bishop would be ready for Game 7. Now appears that he is.

For the Stars, the return of Bishop is huge on so many levels.

The veteran goalie, 32, enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, going 27-15-2 with a 1.98 GAA and a .934 save percentage in 46 games in the regular season. Down the stretch, he went 11-3-0 with a 1.15 GAA, a .962 save percentage and six shutouts.

His work in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a key reason why the Stars are one win away from a berth in the Western Conference Final. He's 7-5 with a 2.32 GAA and .929 save percentage; he was named the First Star after making 38 saves in the Stars' 2-1 win in Game 5, their previous game in St. Louis.

Bishop is also one of the best stickhandling goalies in the game. His ability to handle and move pucks plays a big role in how the Stars plan their defensive zone breakouts.

"It's tough for teams to play against because he's another defenseman … he gets pucks moving up the ice when [opponents] are forechecking," Stars forward Andrew Cogliano said. "For players trying to create pressure and turn over pucks, it makes things really difficult because he adds another guy back there. 

"I've talked to guys even in Nashville after the first series and they said they thought it was a big advantage for us having him playing the puck. Him and his confidence in the nets helps stop pucks as big he is. He's the guy we need."

As solid a backup as Khudobin is, it's hard to replace Bishop, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender along with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders.

"Whenever you see your goalie like him down, it's a concern," Cogliano said. "I didn't really know what happened. But he's a major part of why we're here in the first place. And he's a goalie that when he's in the net, your team plays more confident in front of him. He plays the puck. He's big. He swallows up rebounds. He's a Vezina candidate for a reason.

"He's the guy we need in there for a game like this."

Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis, said he's been swamped with texts from friends and family in anticipation of Game 7. 

"I guess it's neat," Bishop said when asked about playing a do-or-die game in the city where he cheered for the Blues as a kid. "But once the game starts and what not, you're not thinking about anything like that. It's all business. Once the game starts, you're not thinking about where you are or who you're playing. It's just going out there and doing your thing."

For much of 2018-19 Bishop has done his thing as well as any goalie in the NHL. His teammates and the entire Stars fanbase hope he can replicate that on Tuesday.

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