Despite losing Bishop, Lightning strikes to take series lead over Penguins

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It took less than three minutes into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final for controversy and drama to take hold between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

It started with Ryan Callahan running Kris Letang from behind into the boards, earning a major penalty for boarding but no game misconduct. Letang went to the Penguins dressing room, but did eventually return.

It took a frightening turn when Bolts goalie Ben Bishop was taken off the ice on a stretcher after suffering an apparent left-knee injury. He didn’t return, as 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy was suddenly called into action.

(You’ll recall Vasilevskiy started Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final due to a Bishop injury.)

It continued with Bolts forward Tyler Johnson being hurt on a knee-on-knee hit with Chris Kunitz late in the first period. Johnson also eventually returned, but another injury would’ve been a huge loss for Tampa Bay, which entered this series still without the services of Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman.

Despite the devastating loss of Bishop — there has so far been no update on any injury he may have suffered — and the temporary loss of Johnson, as well as no Stamkos or Stralman, the Bolts were able to grab the early series lead with a 3-1 victory on Friday.

Alex Killorn opened the scoring for Tampa Bay. In the second period, the Lightning completely opened up the game with goals from Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin.

Meanwhile, the Penguins were able to beat Vasilevskiy only once. He was solid, making 25 saves on 26 shots for the win in relief in a difficult situation.

Sidney Crosby, despite an assist in the second period as Pittsburgh finally got on the board, seemed frustrated and Evgeni Malkin was once again held off the score sheet.

Malkin hasn’t recorded a point in five straight games.

The Penguins were also unable to capitalize on their five-minute power play in the opening period.