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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dems say oust Trump or he’ll betray again; ‘He is who he is’

WASHINGTON — Closing out their case, House Democrats warned Friday in Donald… Continue reading

Senators may have to rein in activism in minority Parliament: new govt rep

OTTAWA — Independent senators may have to curb their enthusiasm for amending… Continue reading

Alberta woman charged with child abduction pleads guilty to lesser charge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A woman in southern Alberta who was charged with… Continue reading

‘A little love can go a long way,’ says a Red Deer opioid user who supports overdose prevention

The OPS means higher survival rates and less needle debris, he adds

Firefighters tackle blaze in Royal Canadian Legion building

Firefighters got call of light smoke about 4:25 p.m.

Fashion Fridays: The basics you need for your body type

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Pearman: Bohemian Waxwings the consummate nomads

It is always a treat when a winter flock of Bohemian waxwings… Continue reading

Shots from stands, women’s 3-on-3 highlight NHL skills event

ST. LOUIS — Shooting pucks from the stands and some of the… Continue reading

Canada beats U.S. in 3-on-3 women’s game at NHL all-star skills competition

ST. LOUIS — Melodie Daoust and Rebecca Johnston scored to give Canada… Continue reading

Lowry, Siakam lead Raptors past Knicks for 6th straight win

Raptors 118 Knicks 112 NEW YORK — Kyle Lowry scored 26 points,… Continue reading

Dems say oust Trump or he’ll betray again; ‘He is who he is’

WASHINGTON — Closing out their case, House Democrats warned Friday in Donald… Continue reading

Senators may have to rein in activism in minority Parliament: new govt rep

OTTAWA — Independent senators may have to curb their enthusiasm for amending… Continue reading

Alberta woman charged with child abduction pleads guilty to lesser charge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A woman in southern Alberta who was charged with… Continue reading

Most Read