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Berube: Lightning kept eyes on prize

Tampa Bay maintained even keel against Penguins after injuries to Bishop, Johnson

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.

Berube, 50, was the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach on Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the Rangers in the first round in 2014.

PITTSBURGH -- The Tampa Bay Lightning easily could have packed it in after seeing their No. 1 goaltender, Ben Bishop, leave the ice at Consol Energy Center on a stretcher during the first period on Friday.

But with backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy taking over, the Lightning charged on, got a goal from forward Alex Killorn late in the first and earned a 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

"The way they've played, I don't think it affected them that much, to be honest with you," former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "It happened last year in the playoffs for them, [and] Vasilevskiy's done a good job for them. They believe in him obviously, because I thought they picked their game up after that, actually."

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Killorn gets free and beats Murray

Friday was a testament to how deep the Lightning are, considering they started the game without No. 1 center Steven Stamkos and top-pair defenseman Anton Stralman. Not only were they without Bishop for the last 47 minutes, Lightning center Tyler Johnson was out for a stretch in Game 1 after he was hit awkwardly into the boards by Penguins forward Chris Kunitz. But Tampa Bay wasn't fazed by any of it.

"They're deep, they've got a lot of good players from top to bottom on that team," Berube said. "I think that they really understand their roles. They believe in their team and it's about the team. That's why they can keep winning and play the way they do with real key players out of the lineup … Stamkos, Stralman, and now Bishop getting hurt [Friday] night. They're a tough hockey team."

It certainly helps that defenseman Victor Hedman is still healthy; Hedman played 27:41 in Game 1 and made a gorgeous outlet pass from his own goal line to Killorn at the Penguins blue line to set up Tampa Bay's first goal. Hedman had four of the Lightning's 20 blocked shots.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Drouin scores off Palat's dish on break

"He's a great player, we all know that," Berube said of Hedman. "It seems like he could play all game."

Despite the loss, Berube said the Penguins shouldn't be too concerned heading into Game 2 at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Bishop was solid before his injury, and Vasilevskiy was forced to make 16 saves in the third period.

"Pittsburgh put a lot of pucks on net in that first period," Berube said. "Pretty intense hockey right off the hop, which I expected. Both these teams are fast hockey teams that are playing hard, physical hockey right now with a lot of speed.

"I think they're fine, they had their opportunities. They didn't put the puck in the back of the net enough in that game, but they had their opportunities. They're a good hockey team too. [Coach] Mike Sullivan's done a great job there with that team. Just the way they play, they play a fast, intense style. They're fine. I think it's going to be a real good series."

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