TAMPA – It was a bitter sweet victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning rebounded from back-to-back losses to shutout the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0, but almost netminder Ben Bishop to an upper body injury in the process.
The Lightning rallied behind backup netminder Anders Lindback though, as he not only shared a shutout with Bishop, but won his first game since January 11.
"It wasn't a surprise that he came in and played huge for us," Victor Hedman said. "He made key saves when we needed him and it was a well-deserved shutout for him."
Bishop succumbed to an upper body injury 5:43 into the game when he dove in the air for a puck and landed hard on his left side. Bishop was helped off the ice by team trainer Tom Mulligan and Eric Brewer, favoriting his left side.
Lindback came on and stopped all 25 shots he faced.
While the Bolts have tended to play to the occasion, the team did not sink into their seats when Bishop was escorted off the ice, but actually answered the call in what may be their most adverse moment since losing Steven Stamkos for more than half of the season.
"When Bishop went down, nobody flinched," head coach Jon Cooper said. "They know how hard Lindback's worked and you. He was a really calm, confident goalie back there tonight and our team was feeding off it. "
It was also dually noted by the Lindback.
"I don't think I had a rebound all game, they really took care of everything," Lindback said. "It was a great performance by the guys."
In the last several outings, the Bolts first period play left room to build upon. In their past two contests alone, they were outscored 5-0 in the opening frame. Tonight was a different story.
"I thought we jumped out of the gate from the get-go," Hedman said. "We played to our strengths for 60 minutes and when that happens good things are going to come."
Lindback seemed shaky after he was initially called upon in relief, but was solid by the close of the period. He stopped seven of Toronto's 10 shots, while the rest of the team gained energy in the final minute of play.
"It's my job to be able to step in and give our team a chance," Lindback said. "You can't hang your hat on the way the season has been going. Maybe I found my game recently when before I was lacking a few details here-and-there. I thought today worked out and we got the win."
The Bolts had previously allowed the first goal in six of their past eight games. Tampa Bay shook that demon and took a 1-0 lead with a high-wrister by Ondrej Palat for his 21st goal of the season.
Palat was fed a pass by Hedman from the neutral zone and shot it over Leafs' goaltender James Reimer at 9:19 of the second.
"It was a relief," Palat said. "When you get a lead it's always easier to play."
Just more than six minutes later, Palat scored his second goal of the game to give the Bolts a 2-0 lead. Steven Stamkos' shot went wide and bounced off the end boards. Palat picked up the rebound off the boards to beat Reimer stick side at 15:45.
With the goals, Palat extended his point streak to four games (two goals, four assists) and tied Valtteri Filppula for the team lead for points with 57.
The Lightning also lost defenseman Sami Salo after just one shift in the second. He did not return to the game.
Carrying the lead into the third, the Lightning faced minimal tests as the Maple Leafs added only seven shots on net the entire frame. Tampa Bay then solidified the win with an empty net goal from Hedman with only 12.6 left in the contest. It was Hedman's third point of the game.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay wraps up a six-game homestand with back-to-back games Thursday and Friday versus the Metropolitan Division's Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning are a perfect 2-0 versus the Flyers this season. They conclude the regular season with a trip to the District on Sunday to play the Washington Capitals at 3 p.m.