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Given chance to respond, Bishop boosts Lightning

by David Satriano /

NEW YORK -- After Ben Bishop allowed five goals in two straight games of the Eastern Conference Final, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked if he would change his goalie.

Cooper said it was asinine and preposterous to consider benching the starter who led the Lightning all season and into the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Cooper was right.

Bishop made 26 saves in a 2-0, Game 5 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday that moved the Lightning within one win of the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can win the conference in Game 6 at Amalie Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Even though what happened the last few games, I wasn't discouraged," Bishop said. "There was nothing drastically wrong. Just wanted to come out and play the same way."

Prior to Games 3 and 4, Bishop hadn't allowed five or more goals in back-to-back games since 2011. On Sunday, he made 10 saves in each of the final two periods and didn't give the Rangers many rebound opportunities.

Bishop's teammates blocked 14 shots and zoned in on defense.

"Guys sacrificing their bodies and making it easy on me," Bishop said. "When the game was on the line, and those aren't soft shots, those are full-on clappers that guys are just getting in front of and making it look easy."

Bishop said he never lost confidence in himself; neither did his teammates.

"I don't think anyone in this room doubted him as a goalie," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "He's terrific, he's been huge for us the whole season and he proves it again. He comes up big for us when we need it the most. He was awesome."

Cooper said he was not surprised by the way Bishop played, especially with the importance of Game 5.

"I would say he looked really confident in the net," Cooper said. "As the series have gone on and the longer they've gone on, he's elevated his game. … He's not giving up rebounds, he's just commanding the net.

"[There are] all great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this League and he's shown it."

Bishop allowed two power-play goals in each of the past three games, but he and the Lightning allowed four shots on four Rangers power plays Sunday.

"I think the penalty kill came up huge," Bishop said. "Obviously we weren't very happy with the last few games and, I don't know how many it was tonight. … That really kept us in one and we were able to get one and obviously the power play came up big."

Bishop shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0 in Game 7 of the first round, and eliminated the Montreal Canadiens with a 4-1 win in Game 6 of the second. Each of those games was in Tampa.

"It's nice," he said. "It's just another win, it's the only way to look at it and now we just have to get ready for the next one.

"Just enjoy this for a few seconds and then forget about it and get ready for the next game. Obviously [the Rangers] have been in this situation many times, we know they are good at it, so it's going to be fun to get home in front of our fans."


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