Tyler Johnson scored short-handed, even strength and on the power play to claim the first hat-trick in Lightning playoff history as Tampa Bay got their high-scoring offense in gear and leveled the Eastern Conference finals with a 6-2 victory over the stumbling New York Rangers on Monday night.
Alex Killorn added two goals and Steven Stamkos one as the Lightning bounced back from a crushing late loss on Saturday and made the Presidents’ Trophy winners pay for every slip, penalty and mistake.
Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers in the wide-open, penalty-filled match that ended New York’s run of playing in 15 straight playoff games decided by one goal.
Photo: USA Today
Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up at least five goals in two of three regular-season games against Tampa Bay this season, gave up six on just 26 shots.
Ben Bishop had another big game for the Lightning, making 35 saves. Both Rangers goals came on the power play.
The Rangers were sloppy. Players falling led to two Lightning goals on odd-man rushes. Tampa scored three times on the power play, once short-handed and once just after a power play ended. New York committed too many mistakes against a fast and skilful Tampa Bay.
The 24-year-old Johnson came into the game leading the NHL with eight post-season goals and he increased the total to 11 before the second period was over.
The first was short-handed as a two-man disadvantage was expiring. The second came on a power play and the last was even strength.
The Rangers were late into a 1 minute, 7 second two-man advantage when Martin St Louis fell trying to take a shot straight on and it sent Johnson on a breakaway with St Louis in pursuit.
Lundqvist stopped Johnson’s initial shot, but Johnson poked at the puck as St Louis crashed into his own goaltender and the puck went in the net. The officials waved off the goal, but it was reviewed and the call was overturned.
The Lightning continued to take penalties and Kreider made them pay three minutes later, putting in the rebound of St Louis’ shot.
Johnson’s second goal came on a great shot just 15 seconds after Stepan was called for tripping, which was the third minor in a 60-second span. It gave the Lightning a four-on-three advantage and Johnson found the top corner of the net in close after getting a two-on-one advantage down low.
The hat-trick was capped at 8:17 of the second period and, like the first, it resulted from a slip. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal fell at the Tampa Bay blue line and it set up a two-on-one. Ondrej Palat hit the goalpost, but Johnson knocked the puck into the net off a scramble. It was also reviewed, but this one stood.
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