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Lightning again mum on Bishop's status for Game 4

by Arpon Basu

CHICAGO -- Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop took the morning skate Wednesday and was in the starter's net, but his status for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) remains up in the air.

If that sounds familiar to the situation prior to the Lightning's 3-2 win in Game 3 on Monday, that's because it is.

"I think we're in the same holding pattern as we were 48 hours ago," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Bishop spoke to the media following the skate and did not have more to offer on the likelihood he would play, even though all signs pointed to him starting the game.

"The same thing [Cooper] said," Bishop said. "We'll see."

Bishop made 36 saves in Game 3, including 18 on 19 shots in the first period, and the Lightning erased a 2-1 deficit in the third to win the game. He was seen laboring to get back up on numerous occasions, but whatever was bothering the goaltender did not prevent him from making the saves when necessary.

"I think the guys played really well in front of me," Bishop said. "Obviously got some big blocked shots there and they make it easy on me."

One of the ways the Lightning made it easier was by limiting the Blackhawks' lateral, east-west plays, thereby saving Bishop from having to go post-to-post too often. Defenseman Anton Stralman said the primary way the Lightning have done that is by applying pressure on the Blackhawks forwards whenever they have the puck, no matter where they are.

"It's all over the ice," he said. "It starts in the offensive zone when we lose the puck, making sure our [defense] pinches and staying on top of their forwards to take the puck out of their hands early. Our forwards have to come back for us in order to do that. We're doing it all over the ice and we've been doing it the whole year against every team, really. It's a big part of our game plan and our system. When we're really on it, we're a successful team."

Bishop said he expects the same kind of intense attack from the Blackhawks in the first period of Game 4 as he saw in Game 3.

"They're a really good first-period team in this building," Bishop said. "I was laughing; that was probably one of our better first periods in this building in the last couple of years. But they've always come out hard, so it was no different than any other game. We'll prepare the same way."

The possibility remains that Cooper will dress rookie forward Jonathan Drouin and scratch defenseman Nikita Nesterov if he opts to go with a traditional lineup of 12 forwards and six defensemen. Drouin said he will take the warmup, as he did in Game 3, and will be told after if he's in.

"He’s going to wait until the last moment to make a decision," Drouin said. "You have to be ready for either one, to play or not play."

Here are the projected lineups for Game 4:


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Brian Boyle - Brenden Morrow

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Jonathan Drouin, Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov

Injured: none


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane

Kris VersteegBrad RichardsMarian Hossa

Patrick SharpAntoine VermetteTeuvo Teravainen

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Kimmo TimonenBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaTrevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Bryan Bickell, Kyle Cumiskey, David Rundblad, Antti Raanta, Daniel Carcillo, Ville Pokka, Phillip Danault, Ryan Hartman, Joakim Nordstrom, Viktor Svedberg

Injured: Michal Rozsival (left ankle fracture)

Status report: Aside from the possibility Drouin will play and Nesterov will sit, there are no anticipated lineup changes for the Lightning.

Who's hot: Over the past two games, Callahan has a goal and three assists, Johnson, Palat and Kucherov have combined for three goals and three assists, and Hedman has four assists.

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