The Tampa Bay Lightning will celebrate the 10th anniversary of winning their only Stanley Cup, but Ben Bishop may be giving them hope of adding another in the future.
After setting a franchise record for wins in a season, Bishop is expected to be back in net Monday night when the Lightning attempt to end a six-game homestand with a third straight win against the Vancouver Canucks and former championship-winning coach John Tortorella.
Tampa Bay (36-24-7) will honor its 2004 Stanley Cup-winning squad, and the current Lightning are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
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Bishop will likely play a major part in possibly making another run at a championship, and he’s already added his name to the team’s record books.
The goaltender’s 31 wins is a franchise record, surpassing the 30 in 2002-03 by Nikolai Khabibulin, who backstopped the Lightning to the Cup.
Bishop is also among the NHL’s leaders in wins, goals-against average (2.10) and shutouts (five).
"You see where we are in the standings," center Valtteri Filppula told the team’s official website. "He’s a huge part of it. He kept us in a lot of games where we didn’t think we had a chance the whole game, then we were able to win."
That may have been the case Saturday, when Bishop made 23 saves in a 3-0 win over New Jersey. That came two days after he had 23 stops in a 5-4 win over Florida, snapping a personal four-game slide, during which he compiled a 3.15 GAA.
"He’s been that guy who has given up two or less this year," coach Jon Cooper said. "And to bounce back like he did from his last few starts just shows his progression.
"You’re watching the growth of Ben Bishop. He wants that next start. He’s not shying away from it."
Bishop is 17-3-4 at home, and he’s already defeated Vancouver (31-29-10) on the road Jan. 1, making 28 saves in a 4-2 victory. A similar performance could help the Lightning conclude this homestand with a split after dropping the first three contests.
"It’s turned into a good homestand," Cooper said. "But we can make it a great one with points against the Canucks. We need to continue to take care of business at home."
The Canucks, 4-12-1 in 17 games, are looking to cap a four-game road trip with six points after beating the Panthers 4-3 in a shootout Sunday. Nicklas Jensen scored the only goal in the tiebreaker, while Eddie Lack stopped all of Florida’s chances following 26 saves through overtime.
"That’s just the way it’s been," Tortorella said. "We’ve been on the other side of these things. Good for Eddie Lack, and Jensen. It’s not Picasso, that’s for sure, but it’s nice to grind away and scratch and claw and get the two points."
Jensen has been a pleasant surprise since being recalled from Utica of the AHL earlier this month. The rookie left wing has three points in five games, finding the net in each of the last two.
Alexandre Burrows is also adding some scoring punch with three goals and three assists in four games, including three points Sunday. The right wing, though, has only one assist in his past four games against Tampa Bay.
The Canucks will have to contend with Steven Stamkos this time after he sat out the most recent matchup with a broken shin. That was one of 45 games missed by Stamkos, who has five goals and three assists in four career meetings with Vancouver.
Stamkos, however, has just one goal and one assist in five games since returning from injury.