TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper didn’t even wait for the question to arise in his post-game press conference.
“Before we get going, and I hate to be that guy,” Cooper said. “I will not answer a question about the goaltending or what happened tonight.”
It was interesting, to be sure, when Lightning starting goaltender Ben Bishop left the game midway through the third period, came back moments later, then left again for the rest of the game. Andrei Vasilevskiy relieved Bishop and got the victory as the Lightning held on to beat the Blackhawks, 4-3, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. Vasilevskiy was in net when Jason Garrison scored the game-winning, power-play goal, which is why he got the victory.
So is Bishop injured? Was it just something minor and he was kept out for precautionary reasons? Cooper staying secretive isn’t a surprise but it fuels speculation of Bishop’s situation, and whether or not it affects the goaltender for Game 3. Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports tweeted that Bishop suffered a knee injury. Again, Cooper wasn’t talking about Bishop and neither was anyone else for the Lightning.
Vasilevskiy was in there when the Blackhawks went on their final power play of the night. The Lightning had their most aggressive kill of the night, stifling the Blackhawks on that power play.
Lightning players said they had faith in Vasilevskiy; his last appearance was on May 26, in late-minute duty in Game 6 against the New York Rangers.
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"I didn't say anything to him. He's a pretty confident kid,” Steven Stamkos said. “I think it helped that he's come in relief a couple times this playoffs. He's got a taste of it. This will just add to his confidence. He made some big saves. I don't think anyone really knows what's going on, but he played great tonight and it was nice to finish off the game for him.”
Vasilevskiy stopped all five shots he saw. Did the Blackhawks fire enough on the backup goaltender in those waning minutes?
“I don’t know, regardless of who’s in net, we were trying to find a way to tie that game in the end,” Jonathan Toews said. “But sometimes those ones slip away from you. We just kept giving up goals every time we tied the game or got ourselves backinto it. We just ran out of time.’’