Skip to main content

Lightning goalie issue doesn't affect Penguins' plan

Pittsburgh staying the course, regardless of who is in net for Tampa Bay in Game 2

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins won't change their approach regardless of which Tampa Bay Lightning goalie they face.

Starter Ben Bishop was carried off the ice on a stretcher after sustaining a lower-body injury in the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Consol Energy Center on Friday.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times that the 2016 Vezina Trophy finalist is considered day-to-day.

Backup Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in 47:15 of relief in Tampa Bay's 3-1 win. The Lightning lead the best-of-7 with Game 2 here on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Vasilevskiy makes tough pad stop in 3rd

"We have a scouting report on all the guys. It's certainly not going to change the way we play just because there's another goaltender in there," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "Different goaltenders have certain tendencies. We make our guys aware of it. But certainly, from a team concept or preparation standpoint, it doesn't have an impact on how we're trying to play the game.

"But certainly, we will make our guys well aware of some of their tendencies and where their strengths are and where their weaknesses may be, and where we might have an opportunity to exploit."

Vasilevskiy, 21, made one start against the Penguins during the regular season. He made 36 saves in a 5-4 overtime road win on Jan. 15.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper did not update Bishop's status Saturday, but said news regarding Bishop was better than anticipated when he left Game 1.

The Penguins recorded one shot, a Phil Kessel wrist shot at 16:29, over the remaining 7:35 of the first period following Bishop's departure.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Vasilevskiy moves left to deny Crosby

"I thought [Vasilevskiy] was solid," Sullivan said. "He made some big saves for them. I thought we had some real high-quality scoring chances. He made some big saves. He gave their team a chance to win. I thought we could have put more pressure on him early, right away when he first took the net over [Friday] night and I don't think we grabbed a hold of the momentum as best we could, as best as we could have or should have.

"But I do think there were stretches of the game, in the second half of that game, where we had some extended zone time, put some pressure on him and he made some timely saves."

With Vasilevskiy being called into action, the conference final began with two 21-year-old goaltenders battling through the majority of Game 1. Penguins rookie Matt Murray, who lost for the third time in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff starts, said Vasilevskiy's effort wasn't surprising.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Murray denies Kucherov on the rush

"He's obviously a great goalie," Murray said. "He was drafted the same year I was [2012]. He's a first-rounder and played in World Juniors and he's a heck of a goalie. So, I don't think it was much of a dropoff, losing Bishop. He's such a good goaltender."

Murray made 17 saves and surrendered three goals for a third consecutive playoff start after allowing fewer than three goals in five of his first seven. In his past three starts (1-2), Murray's save percentage has dipped to .885.

Sullivan hasn't blamed Murray for his recent form, but has not ruled out turning to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at some point.

"We leave all options open with all of our positions," Sullivan said. "As far as what went on [Friday] night, we feel as though Matt had a very strong game. The goals that were scored were high-quality chances and very difficult saves, so I don't think it's an instance where Matt had a subpar performance. That being said, we keep all options on the table."

Fleury, who won the 2009 Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, has not played since sustaining his second concussion of the season on March 31.

"With each practice he gets, the further away he gets from his injury, I think it gives him a better chance to be successful," Sullivan said. "The challenge for him moving forward is that he hasn't played in an NHL game in quite some time with the intensity level. It's very difficult to simulate that in practice. It's an imperfect situation, and we're trying to make the best decisions that we can."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.