CALGARY, Alberta — Two days after being left off the USA Olympic roster, goaltender Ben Bishop had the perfect answer — shut out the team run by one of USA Hockey's executive members.
With Calgary acting general manager Brian Burke watching from above the Saddledome ice surface, Bishop led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-0 victory against Calgary, pitching his league-leading fourth shutout of the season (tied with Boston's Tuukka Rask) and earning his 22nd victory, which is tied for second overall. Bishop has allowed two or fewer goals in eight consecutive starts and 26 of his 31 starts this season.
Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist, while Nikita Kucherov scored for the second consecutive game as the Lightning (25-12-4) have won a season-best five consecutive road games, the longest road winning streak since they won six straight from Jan. 8 to Feb. 7, 2008. Tampa Bay improved to 7-1-1 in the past nine and has points in 12 of the past 14 games
Former Tampa Bay net-minder Karri Ramo kept the Flames in the game, making 27 saves as Calgary was shut out for the third time in four games.
Bishop, who said he is not using the Olympic omission as motivation, did have a bright smile on his face when asked about the shutout with Burke watching.
“There are seven (general managers) out there (on USA Hockey Olympic committee), so I'm not trying to show every single one,'' Bishop said. “I'm just trying to play my game, and I thought the guys did a great job in front of me and made it easy on me.''
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Bishop's play on Friday was not any kind of an answer to the Olympic decision process.
“I think Ben has been the answer for 41 games so far this season, so hopefully he can continue to play the way he's been playing,'' Cooper said.
Tampa Bay was in control most of the game, allowing a season-low-tying 19 shots on goal, maintaining a majority of the puck possession.
Despite being turned aside by Ramo, who stopped 13 shots in the first period and was the benefactor of two shots that struck iron behind him, the Lightning kept plugging away in the second and eventually broke through.
Palat took a feed from Teddy Purcell and ripped a wrist shot past Ramo at 5:23 for his seventh goal of the season. Tampa Bay extended the lead less than five minutes later on a goal from Kucherov for the second consecutive game. Palat worked a give-and go, faking a shot before finding Kucherov across the crease for a tap-in at 10:20 for the rookie's fifth goal of the season.
“I thought we played well, we pushed the pace, and when we made mistakes, Bish was there,'' said Marty St. Louis, who had two third-period shorthanded chances turned aside that could have broken the game open. “It was a good road win.
“It could have a lot worse than it was, Karri was good for them. But we'll take it.''