Johnson sparks Lightning to series tying win

Tue May 19, 2015 12:28am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tyler Johnson powered a determined Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-2 Game Two victory over the New York Rangers on Monday, the center's hat-trick inspiring the visitors to an Eastern Conference Final series-tying triumph.

Johnson, a 24-year-old NHL All-Star, scored twice in a penalty-filled first period and added another in the second, while towering netminder Ben Bishop stopped 34-of-36 shots to silence the Madison Square Garden crowd.

The young Tampa Bay center scored the first three goals for the Lightning, who carried a 3-2 lead into the third period.

Alex Killorn scored twice and Steven Stamkos added another to turn a tight game into a rout in the final period as Tampa Bay bounced back to level the best-of-seven series after a 2-1 loss in Game One.

It was Johnson's fourth multi-goal game of the playoffs and gave him 11 tallies this postseason.

"I'm just happy to be here. I'm living my dream," said the 5-foot-9-inch sparkplug Johnson.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper, critical of his team's effort in their opening loss, saw a big difference.

"I think in Game One we participated in a hockey game and in Game Two we came to win a hockey game," he said.   Continued...

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) is congratulated by teammates after the third period of game two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Johnson had a hat-trick and the Lightning defeated the Rangers 6-2 to even the series at 1-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports