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Bishop, Stamkos won't play for Lightning in Game 4

Tampa Bay goalie 'getting closer' but out against Pittsburgh; center still unsure when he will return

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without center Steven Stamkos and goaltender Ben Bishop for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Stamkos, who is recovering from surgery April 4 to remove a blood clot near his right collarbone, had estimated Thursday that there was a five percent chance of him playing in Game 4. On Friday he downgraded that to "zero percent" and admitted he knew Thursday that there probably was no chance of him playing.

Bishop is recovering from a lower-body injury he sustained in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series. He participated in the Lightning's optional morning skate Friday after practicing Thursday.

"It's getting better," Bishop said. "It's better than it was [Thursday] and I know we're making progress here."

Bishop said he is "getting closer" to being ready to play but wouldn't say if Game 5 on Sunday is a possibility.

"We'll just see and take it day-by-day," Bishop said. "We're not going to look too far into the future right now."

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start his third consecutive game. Vasilevskiy made 44 saves in a 4-2 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday, a Lightning record for a regulation game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm3: Vasilevskiy denies Hagelin and Kessel

With the Lightning trailing 2-1 in the series, Stamkos and Bishop each want to make it back in time to help their teammates.

"It's just tough timing," Bishop said. "There's nothing worse than sitting out and watching your team play. You want to be out there helping the guys. It's really just unfortunate. But at the same time you can't sit here and think about that. You just have to focus on getting better."

Although Bishop still appears to be limited in his movement, Stamkos looks and feels 100 percent healthy. He said that's the toughest part.

"It's a little different when it's pain that you're playing through," Stamkos said. "I have no pain. It's more frustrating because it's just not safe. I think there's a big difference between playing through pain and playing through your life at risk, so it's easier to comprehend it. I've played through a lot of pain and lots of hockey players play with a lot of pain. I don't feel any pain. That's the toughest part, I think, is physically feeling ready and just internally not being ready. I can't feel or see that."

Stamkos said he spoke briefly after Game 3 with former Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, who had to stop playing because of repeated blood clots, but said, "It's two totally different situations so it's comparing apples and oranges at that point."

Vasilevskiy went through a similar blood clot situation to Stamkos at the start of this season.

"They're not the exact same thing but similar and he's been a good source of information for me. And obviously our trainers are very aware of similar situations," Stamkos said.

Stamkos said he's still not at the point where he's able to make a decision about whether it is safe enough for him to play.

"There's a lot of things that are taken into consideration," he said. "At the end of the day, you just try to gather as much information and make such decisions being informed about every little detail. We're not at that stage yet where that decision is coming. But hopefull, we can be there sooner than later."

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