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Lightning optimistic Bishop will return

Tampa Bay goalie 'making progress' recovering from lower-body injury

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- There is a chance Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will return during the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with coach Jon Cooper saying Tuesday he's optimistic the Vezina Trophy finalist will play again.

However, Cooper said the schedule of games makes a return more challenging. 

"I think when you're playing every other day it's tougher for anybody to come back," Cooper said. "That's where those three-day breaks are big in that regard. That's helped us out in a few of these series just trying to help get guys back. But ultimately whether it's one day, two days or three days, if he's ready to go, he's ready to go, and I don't think an extra day is going to help out. He's making progress every day, so hopefully you'll see him soon."

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Bishop exits with injury in the 1st

Bishop was taken from the ice on a stretcher during the first period of Game 1 and did not play in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 on Monday that evened the best-of-7 series 1-1. He is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Game 3 is at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). 

Andrei Vasilevskiy has proven to be a solid replacement through the first two games. He made 38 saves in Game 2 and has stopped 63 of 67 shots through a little more than five periods of play.

Some of Vasilevskiy's saves in Game 2 were highlight-reel worthy, including a glove save on Penguins forward Sidney Crosby midway through the second period. He also stopped Crosby in the third period when he got the shaft of his stick on a shot from the right circle. 

Crosby scored 40 seconds into overtime, but Cooper credited Vasilevskiy for keeping the Lightning in the game.

"I feel bad for Vasilevskiy," Cooper said. "That kid just plays lights out for us every time and we just haven't played well in front of him. We seem to hang him out to dry at times during games. 

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm2: Vasilevskiy denies Kunitz's backhander

"I think we played OK. We limited chances in the second period, but the first and the third there were just way too many chances against. Clearly he's the reason the game was so close."

The Lightning were outshot 41-21 in Game 2 and defenseman Victor Hedman said they will have to figure out ways to slow the Penguins on offense and take some pressure off their goaltender.

"We want to play with more speed," Hedman said. "And I think we, especially Monday, [had] too many turnovers and that kind of feeds into their game. There's two fast teams going at it and it's high pace out there. But obviously we've got to possess the puck a little bit more and get pucks deep."

Despite all the mistakes the Lightning made Monday, forward Alex Killorn had a chance on a breakaway late in the second period that could have given them a lead. Killorn also hit the crossbar in the third period.

Forward Tyler Johnson said even though the Lightning split the first two games to gain home-ice advantage, they know they can play better.

"I don't think we can honestly say it was our A-game the entire time," Johnson said. "Game 2, I thought we could have been a lot better. Game 1, I thought we started out well but there were some moments that we could have been better. Pittsburgh is a very talented team so when they have the puck it's very difficult. We have to do a lot better in supporting each other, giving each other outs and being able to help each other."

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