Flyers at Lightning game preview
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers are both going to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay, however, has another major concern during its injury-plagued season.
The Lightning won’t have the injured Ben Bishop for the remainder of the regular season, beginning with Thursday night’s home matchup with the Flyers.
One of the keys this season for Tampa Bay (43-27-7) has been Bishop, who was acquired last April from Ottawa and has posted a 2.23 goals-against average.
Bishop exited Tuesday with 14:17 left in the first period with an undisclosed upper-body injury and Anders Lindback finished up in a 3-0 home win that eliminated Toronto.
"Let’s just wait and see what happens here," coach Jon Cooper said. "No sense in speculating. He’s either going to be ready to go or he’s not."
The coach said Lindback was scheduled to start Thursday even before Bishop’s injury, and Kristers Gudlevskis has been recalled from the minors. Lindback stopped 25 shots by the Maple Leafs.
"He was seeing the play, making plays and when we needed the saves, he made ’em," Cooper said.
Bishop’s injury is another blow for the Lightning, who lost star Steven Stamkos for 45 games earlier this season due to a broken right leg. Cooper believes his team can survive yet again.
"It’s called a team because everybody’s important, everybody has a role," Cooper said. "Some guys’ roles are a little bigger than others. Ninety-one (Stamkos) has a really big role on our team, we lost him for 45 games. We’ve lost players through the year, we’ve lost Phil (Kessel), we’ve lost (Victor) Hedman, you go down the list the players that we’ve lost.
"I don’t know, the guys in there, they seem to respond. When adversity kicks them in the teeth, they seem to rise to the occasion."
Philadelphia (41-29-9) also battled through adversity, reaching the playoffs after losing seven of eight to start the season. Craig Berube replaced Peter Laviolette as coach after three games.
"From the start we got, from the first (eight) games, we’ve got to be proud of what we’ve done," center Vincent Lecavalier said. "Obviously we have to finish strong and make sure that we’re ready and confident for that first round."
The Flyers still can gain home-ice advantage in the first round. They trail the New York Rangers by two points for second place in the Metropolitan Division and have a game in hand.
Philadelphia has won two straight following a 0-2-2 slide after Tuesday’s 5-2 victory in Florida opened this three-game trip. Claude Giroux scored twice as the Flyers built a 4-0 lead in the second period before holding off a late rally.
"We kind of took our foot off the gas," Giroux said. "We only have three games to kind of work on our game and be ready for the playoffs."
This will mark the second time that Lecavalier will play as a visitor in Tampa Bay after he spent his first 14 seasons with the Lightning and scored a franchise-record 383 goals. He received a standing ovation in the Flyers’ 4-2 loss Nov. 27.
Tampa Bay also captured the other 2013-14 meeting, 6-3 on the road Jan. 11.
The Flyers haven’t won in regulation in their last seven visits to Tampa Bay, going 1-5-1.