PITTSBURGH -- As he crumbled to the ice at Consol Energy Center on Friday, all the work Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop put in to help his team get back to the Eastern Conference Final, all the dreams he's had of one day hoisting the Stanley Cup, he couldn't help but feel it was being taken away from him.
Everyone in the capacity crowd attending Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins likely felt the same way. Watching Bishop writhing in agony, clutching his left knee, not having the ability to get up and needing a stretcher to leave the ice, it was easy to believe his season was over.
But Bishop was here Sunday, sitting at the podium, addressing the media for the first time since that scary incident that occurred less than 13 minutes into the series opener, describing the scene and how he remarkably hopes to play again this series.
"It was a scary experience for myself," Bishop said. "You saw the play. I fell back and I felt something that I've never felt before. I just had pain right away. Your mind just starts racing, you start thinking the worst thing. I'm thinking my leg's broken. Your mind just starts spinning.
"I was really scared. Off the ice, they got everything checked out and the X-ray was negative, the MRI was OK. Now it's just a matter of getting back to where it feels good again. But it definitely was one of the scarier things to happen to me. It's funny when something like that happens, your mind just starts racing and just thinking the worst. Luckily, it's not that bad."
Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Bishop exits with injury in the 1st
It was a stunning turn of events Saturday, when Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times that Bishop was day-to-day. At the time of the injury, it sure looked to be month-to-month at the very least. The idea we'd see Bishop, a finalist for the 2016 Vezina Trophy, play another game in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs seemed absurd.
"You think your season's over and your summer's over," Bishop said. "How long is it going to take to get back? It's funny how much stuff you can think about in a short period of time. Afterwards it was pretty painful, but as the night went on and the next day, it slowly got better. It's not too painful right now. But going out there and playing hockey is different than just walking around."
The news wasn't just a relief to Bishop's teammates, who plugged along to earn a 3-1 win in Game 1 to take a 1-0 lead in this best-of-7 series, but to his family and friends as well; the people who care about him the most could do nothing but watch either from the stands or on television, wondering if it was something that was potentially career-threatening.
"My phone definitely blew up," Bishop said. "A lot of people saying prayers for you, so I'd like to thank everybody that did that. It means a lot. My family was here and I talked to them afterwards, as soon as I could, and let them know what was going on. Everybody was pretty scared, but at the same time, very thankful for all the texts and all the messages. I appreciate that."
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper didn't rule Bishop out for Game 2 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), though it appears Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 25 saves in relief Friday, will get the start. On Sunday, Bishop gushed about the Lightning's ability to respond and pull through regardless of who is injured -- whether it's captain Steven Stamkos, defenseman Anton Stralman (neither has played this postseason yet) or their No. 1 goaltender.
Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Vasilevskiy makes tough pad stop in 3rd
"We've already used 28, 29 guys in this playoffs," said Bishop, who briefly went on the ice with skates before his teammates practiced Sunday. "I think it just shows a lot about the organization. You need depth to get this far. You don't just get here with one lineup; you have different guys stepping up every single night. I think it's a big reason why we are where we are."
Bishop is one of the biggest reasons why the Lightning are where they are, three wins away from another trip to the Stanley Cup Final. If you dream like Bishop, they're seven wins away from the ultimate prize.
In a remarkable turn of events, Bishop's dream lives on.
"I'm just taking it day by day right now," Bishop said. "It feels better than it did [Saturday]. It's just a matter of getting to where it feels good enough to think that you can go out there and help the team win."