NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, March 17th
(All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (31-29-10) at Tampa Bay Lightning (36-24-7), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Ben Bishop is one of the main reasons that the Tampa Bay
Lightning remain in the playoff picture despite an extended absence by Steven
Stamkos due to injury.
Fresh off of setting a club record for wins in a season, Bishop will look to
lead the Lightning past the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night in the finale of
a six-game homestand.
Though Stamkos missed 45 games from mid-November to early March with a broken
right leg, the Lightning were able to keep pace in the Eastern Conference and
Atlantic Division. With 79 points, Tampa Bay is occupying the first wild card
spot and also is just one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place
in the division.
Bishop has been a big part of that success as he is among the league leaders
with 31 wins, five shutouts, a 2.10 goals against average and .929 save
The 27-year-old, in his first season as a full-time starter, had struggled to
string victories together recently, but won a second outing in a row for the
first time since late January with a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on
Saturday. Bishop made 23 saves in his eighth career shutout and surpassed
Nikolai Khabibulin's 2002-03 franchise record of 30 wins in a season.
"It's a nice accomplishment," Bishop said, "A a whole lot of credit goes to
the guys in front of me. I don't get that without them. It's a team thing. I
don't like at it as an individual thing."
Defenseman Michael Kostka scored in a second straight game and also had an
assist, giving him five points in seven games since joining the Lightning off
waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I just try to play solid defensively when I'm on the ice," said Kostka. "But
it's nice to be able to chip in with a goal when I have the chance."
B.J. Crombeen and Nate Thompson also scored in the victory, Tampa Bay's second
straight following an 0-3-2 drought.
The Canucks also are hoping to string together back-to-back victories and a
win tonight would give the club its first winning streak since consecutive
triumphs on Jan. 18 and 21. Vancouver has won two of three on a four-game road
trip after besting the Florida Panthers 4-3 yesterday in a shootout.
Vancouver was facing Roberto Luongo for the first time since dealing him to
the Panthers on March 4. Luongo made 29 saves, but also yielded the lone goal
of the shootout to the Canucks' Nicklas Jensen.
Eddie Lack, whose production as a rookie this season led to Luongo being
dealt, ended with 26 saves and stopped all three skaters in the shootout.
Dan Hamhuis and Alexandre Burrows scored in regulation for the Canucks, who
escaped with two points after giving up a game-tying goal with 1:35 left in
"Especially the way the game was tied up there at the end, to get the win was
huge for us," said Jensen.
Vancouver won for just the third time in its last nine games (3-5-1) and
improved to 3-12-1 in its past 16 on the road. The victory also pulled the
Canucks to within three points of the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the
second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
The Canucks have lost four of their past six versus the Lightning, including a
4-2 defeat at home on Jan. 1. Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula both had a
goal and an assist, while Bishop made 28 saves.
Lack yielded four goals on 33 shots for the Canucks, who have won four of
their past six in Tampa.
Both Bishop and Lack faced their respective opponent for the first time in
their career in that earlier meeting.
03/17 10:34:09 ET