WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have only the slimmest of chances to still reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, but they have secured a key part of their future.
Goaltender Ben Bishop signed a two-year contract extension Monday after the Lightning arrived here for their game Tuesday evening with the Winnipeg Jets. The Lightning acquired Bishop from the Ottawa Senators on April 3 at the NHL Trade Deadline for speedy forward Cory Conacher.
The 26-year-old has gone 2-3-0 in six games with Tampa Bay and posted a .916 save percentage to go with his 3.21 goals-against average. Bishop earned a 45-save shutout in his Tampa Bay debut April 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes and has assumed the Lightning's No. 1 job with an ankle injury having sidelined Anders Lindback since March 20.
"It's definitely nice to have, but it doesn't change anything," Bishop said after Tampa Bay's morning skate at MTS Centre. "It's just a piece of paper. I still have to go out there and perform and do [my] job."
Bishop is Tampa Bay's latest step toward shoring up a position that has bedeviled the organization for several seasons. The Lightning rank 26th in the League in goals-against per game. In battling Lindback for Tampa Bay's No. 1 job next season, Bishop will be entering a familiar situation. He competed against Brian Elliott and Jake Allen when he was with the St. Louis Blues. After moving on to the Senators, he went up against Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner for playing time in the Ottawa crease.
"I think it's a very healthy competition," Bishop said. "It's something that is just part of the game."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper endorsed the move and will start Bishop against the Jets.
"There's a reason that trade was made," Cooper said. "If we're going to start building this team, we've got to build from the back and up the middle, and you have to start with goaltending. Now we have a couple of young guys and a couple of options. You can't have enough quality at that position. To have a guy like [Bishop] there and know that he is going to be with us for a while, it's nothing but positive."
Lindback and Tom Pyatt (upper body) will not dress against the Jets. Nate Thompson will draw back in for the Lightning after sitting out the team's road loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Here is the projected lineup for the Lightning:
Alex Killorn – Steven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone – Vincent Lecavalier – Benoit Pouliot
Pierre-Cedric Labrie – Richard Panik – Teddy Purcell
B.J. Crombeen – Nate Thompson – Dana Tyrell
Victor Hedman – Sami Salo
Matt Carle – Eric Brewer
Keith Aulie – Radko Gudas
Scratched: JT Wyman
Injured: Anders Lindback (ankle), Tom Pyatt (upper body)