Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) shoots to score his second goal of the game against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the first period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final during the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs

Johnson leads Bolts to electric win

Under the bright lights in the big city, the Tampa Bay Lightning got a gigantic performance from their smallest player. Tyler Johnson continued his stellar Stanley Cup playoffs with a hat trick in Game 2 Monday night as the Lightning routed the New York Rangers 6-2 to even the Eastern Conference final at a game apiece.

NEW YORK — Under the bright lights in the big city, the Tampa Bay Lightning got a gigantic performance from their smallest player.

Tyler Johnson continued his stellar Stanley Cup playoffs with a hat trick in Game 2 Monday night as the Lightning routed the New York Rangers 6-2 to even the Eastern Conference final at a game apiece.

The five-foot-eight dynamo scored short-handed, on the power play and at even strength for the first hat trick in franchise history. Johnson improved his playoff-leading goal total to 11 and became the first player in the NHL with four multi-goal playoff games in the same season since Jamie Langenbrunner in 2003.

“Oh, Tyler Johnson, the bigger the game, the better he plays,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “In the greatest league in the world on the biggest stage, in the world’s most famous arena, it’s pretty impressive. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”

Johnson scored Tampa Bay’s first three goals in the convincing victory, followed by two from Alex Killorn and one by Steven Stamkos. In a game that lacked flow thanks to 13 minor penalties and just 46 minutes of five-on-five play, Johnson was the catalyst in sending the Lightning home happy for Game 3 Wednesday night at Amalie Arena.

“It seems like he was leading the way tonight and we were kind of following,” said Killorn, who finished with three points. “When you have a guy that can turn it up a notch like that, it’s huge.”

Johnson’s game-winner was his fourth of the playoffs, and the Lightning know they wouldn’t be into the third round without him and “Triplets” linemates Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. Cooper made sure to credit Palat for his strong game getting the puck into the offensive zone and in spots to score.

But Game 2 was another showcase for Johnson, the undrafted 24-year-old who went through the Western Hockey League with the Spokane Chiefs and then to the American Hockey League with the Norfolk Admirals without much fanfare.

Johnson was a Calder Trophy finalist last season as a rookie and broke out with 72 points this year. These playoffs have been a chance for fans around the NHL to appreciate his journey and his play.

“I think every morning I’m just happy to be here and I’m living my dream,” Johnson said.

“So that’s what’s driving me is to try to be the best I can and play for my family. They sacrificed so much for me to be here, and I’m living my dream, so I want to keep living it as long as possible.”

Johnson and the Lightning will keep living it now knowing they can hang with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers.

After a Game 1 performance that made Cooper “want to vomit,” his team responded to tie the series.

“The mind-set was a little different, for whatever reason,” Stamkos said. “We weren’t there mentally, physically, we didn’t compete. When this group competes, we talk about it all year, we have the skill and the speed to do anything if we’re willing to compete.”

The Rangers competed early on and tried to make a game of it with goals by Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. But Johnson busted the dam open on the way to Henrik Lundqvist’s first game allowing more than three goals against in these playoffs.

Just Posted

Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police discuss mental health at Red Deer conference

Mental health is a major focus for the Alberta Association of Chiefs… Continue reading

Impeachment witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

WASHINGTON — Career U.S. diplomat William Taylor advanced fresh testimony tying President… Continue reading

Bolivia’s declared interim president faces challenges

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia’s newly declared interim president, until now a… Continue reading

Crime-reduction input from Red Deer residents is valuable, says city manager

Why can’t police question potential thieves for riding their bikes on sidewalks?

Red Deer city council salary increases now up to city manager to determine

Councillors wanted to avoid the awkwardness of setting their own compensation

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Your community calendar

Wednesday Pain 101 class — learn to take control of your chronic… Continue reading

Impeachment witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

WASHINGTON — Career U.S. diplomat William Taylor advanced fresh testimony tying President… Continue reading

Cross country runners earn RDC Athlete of the Week honours

After their performances at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross Country Running… Continue reading

Bolivia’s declared interim president faces challenges

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia’s newly declared interim president, until now a… Continue reading

Leaders quiet about Cherry’s firing

Justin Trudeau has not said anything publicly about the firing of Don… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: Penhold was quick to honour those who served their country

Another Remembrance Day has passed. It is a time to remember and… Continue reading

Bernardo Silva banned by FA over tweet to Man City teammate

LONDON — Bernardo Silva will miss Manchester City’s trip to Chelsea after… Continue reading

People magazine names John Legend as 2019 Sexiest Man Alive

LOS ANGELES — R&B crooner John Legend has been named the Sexiest… Continue reading

Most Read