Lightning survives again to beat Pittsburgh in Playoffs

by Gary Shelton on May 14, 2016 · 1 comment

in general

The Lightning won despite losing Ben Bishop. But when will he be back.

The Lightning won despite losing Ben Bishop. But when will he be back.

Saturday. 6 a.m.

If a hole opened up in the ice, the Tampa Bay Lightning would survive.

If crocodiles rose to the surface, the Lightning would survive.

If Oren Koules returned and brought Marc Denis will with, even then, this edition of the Tampa Bay Lightning would survive.

Has there ever been a team that could take a punch like this one? Has there ever been a team that could survive being robbed of its strengths as repeatedly as this one? The Lightning continues to be stripped for parts, and still, it continues to win.

The Bolts were at it again Friday night in their 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. This time, they lost Ben Bishop in the first
period to a left leg injury. Remember, Bishop was supposed to be Tampa

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Drouin scored his second goal of the playoffs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Drouin scored his second goal of the playoffs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Bay's best shot at an equalizer in this series against the powerful Penguins. He had steal one game, maybe two, for the Bolts to have a shot.

And there he was, lying on the ice, leaving on a stretcher. X-rays would later say there was no structural damage, but when you're talking about an athlete's leg, who knows how long Bishop will be out.
Remember, this was the team that had already lost Steven Stamkos. And Anton Stralman. For part of Saturday night, they lost Tyler Johnson.

And still, they outnumbered the Penguins.

"Injuries are part of the game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You never want it to happen to anybody on either team. You don't want to see things like that, but he went in, and we got him checked out. He had X-rays done, and everything came back negative. So we're hoping for the best."

It's like winning the Indy 500 while losing automobile parts as you drive the track. A team hasn't lost this many players since the first Predator movie. And the remaining Bolts, the B-team, outplayed the Penguins.

That high-powered Pittsburgh offense? It scored once.

Rookie goaltender Matt Murray? He gave up three, and should have given up more.

Home ice advantage? Not so much. The Lightning is now 4-1 away from home in these playoffs.

For the Bolts, Andrei Vasalevskiy was the latest tag-team partner to win.

"I know it was a year ago," Cooper said, "but for someone
as young as he is, he's already played in the Stanley Cup Final, and he was called on in the biggest moments last year. Talk about pushing somebody a little bit down the learning curve a little faster than we wanted to.

"There are cliches thrown around all the time, guys who are first in the rink and last to leave and all those types of things, but with that kid, it's actually true. If there's one thing that Vasilevskiy will never be knocked for, it's for preparation and work ethic. That's in his DNA."

So who does the team lose next? Victor Hedman? Nikita Kucherov? Drouin? Oh,t he Lightning wouldn't want to lose any of them. But you get the feeling that it really doesn't matter for Team-Find-a-Way.

The Lightning and Penguins play again on Sunday. They return to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin all scored for the Bolts.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bill Myers May 14, 2016 at 10:40 am

Makes me believe a little bit more every game! This team just feels different than the one that made the run last year!

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