Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop suffered an apparent left-leg injury in the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday. The injury was severe enough that he could not leave the ice under his own power and was taken off on a stretcher.

After sustaining the injury, Bishop was on the ice for a long period of time and appeared to be in absolute agony. He required assistance from athletic trainers of both teams and some of his teammates to get on the stretcher to be wheeled out of the arena.

Here’s the play it happened on:

Bishop went behind his net to play the puck, which he does often, but the Penguins swarmed. He had to hurry back to his net, made one save and as Patric Hornqvist tried to stuff home the rebound, Bishop stretched out to try and stop him with his pad. In doing so, he was off balance and landed awkwardly on his left leg. Bishop was immediately writhing on the ice, grabbing at his left leg.

The scene that unfolded was one that puts a pit in your stomach. It is very rare to see a player appear to be in that much pain and as a goalie with all of his gear still on, there was not much anyone could do until they got him off the ice.

This does not look good at all for Bishop or the Lightning. The first concern obviously goes to Bishop's health and you hate to see a player playing as well as Bishop was have to leave the season at its most crucial point.

After backstopping the team to the Stanley Cup Final last year, he has been one of the three most important players to the Lightning in these playoffs. He leads all remaining goaltenders in the playoffs with a sparkling .938 save percentage and has logged two shutouts.

Thanks in part to Bishop’s stifling goaltending, the Lightning reached the Eastern Conference finals with only two losses.

Tampa Bay is a bit of an underdog in this series against Pittsburgh, but Bishop was seen as one of the equalizing factors. Now it appears he will join an injured list that also includes captain Steven Stamkos, who is out while dealing with blood clots, and No. 2 defensman Anton Stralman, who appears to be nearing his return from a broken leg. Additionally, later in the first period of Game 1, Tyler Johnson left the game with an apparent leg injury. His status is not yet clear. Of all those absences, Bishop will be by far the biggest.

The Lightning netminder actually had to miss one game of last year’s Stanley Cup Final as he dealt with a groin injury. He returned to the series and after Tampa’s loss to the Blackhawks in six games for the championship, it was revealed that Bishop played through a torn groin.

As he was last year during the Cup Final, Bishop was replaced by young backup Andrei Vasilevskiy for the remainder of Game 1. Vasileveskiy had played only 29:40 previously in these playoffs. He made eight saves in mop-up duty after Bishop was pulled in Game 1 against the New York Islanders of their second-round series.

The 21-year-old Vasilevskiy, who dealt with blood clot issues himself in the offseason, did not have a great sophomore campaign. He appeared in 24 games during the 2015-16 season. He posted an 11-10-0 record, .910 save percentage and 2.76 goals-against average.

As soon as more information becomes available on Bishop, we’ll update here.

Ben Bishop was stretchered off after an apparent severe leg injury. (USATSI)
Ben Bishop was stretchered off after an apparent severe leg injury. (USATSI)