Tyler Johnson’s Hat Trick Sparks Lightning, Bolts Take Game 2

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

Unknown-1Tyler Johnson’s hat trick helped the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the New York Rangers 6-2 in a thrilling end-to-end battle. Tampa coach Jon Cooper made changes from Game 1 switching from 12 forwards and 6 defensemen to only 11 forwards and 7 defenseman. This proved to be confusing for the Rangers and Cooper juggled the lines all night and pulled off a big win at MSG.

The first period was full of special teams action and undisciplined hockey by both teams. Tampa started the period off pretty strong similar to Game 1, recording the game’s first few shots on Lundqvist. About 2 minutes into the first period Tampa took their first penalty- Brian Boyle for holding. Tampa got put in a horrible situation after taking another penalty just a minute later when Jason Garrison was called for delay of game.

But then the unthinkable happened. Martin St. Louis tripped with the puck at his stick and the red hot Tyler Johnson took it the other end and scored shorthanded just 5 minutes into the first period. Tampa Bay then managed to kill off the rest of the Rangers power play, but took another penalty a few minutes later when Brendan Morrow got 2 minutes for high sticking. This time the Rangers took advantage of their power play and Chris Kreider notched home a power play goal assisted by St. Louis and Dan Boyle.

Special teams performances didn’t change the attitude of the players as Kreider (roughing), Ryan Callahan (tripping), and Derek Stepan (tripping) all took penalties within minutes of each other. The result was a 4 on 3 power play, which Tampa capitalized on. Johnson got his second goal of the game- and league leading 10th of the playoffs- assisted by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

With just 5 minutes remaining in the period, Derick Brassard took a penalty for high sticking. The Rangers killed it off without giving up any real opportunities. Both teams had a few power play opportunities during the period with Tampa racking up 8 penalty minutes and the Rangers taking 6 penalty minutes. New York, despite trailing by one after the first period, outshot the Lightening eleven to nine.

The second period brought some discipline issues for Tampa just like in the first period; it started in the first minute with Braydon Coburn taking a roughing penalty. The Lightning managed to kill off the penalty and the game seemed to calm down as both teams finally played some 5 on 5 hockey.

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Just 8 minutes into the second, fans back in Tampa, Floridawere throwing their hats at their TV’s as Johnson scored his 3rd goal of the game, assisted by Ondrej Palat and Kuckerov. This gave Johnson a goal even strength, shorthanded and on the power play and was his 11th of the playoffs.

About halfway through the period a freak injury to linesman, Brad Kovachick, occurred on a hit from Stamkos delivered to Kevin Klein, catching Kovachick by accident. It appeared as though Kovachick’s injury was to his knee.

Greg Devorski replaced Kovachick on the ice, and the Rangers resumed firing away on Ben Bishop. The Rangers began throwing the kitchen sink at the net and drew a questionable penalty on Cedric Paquette. New York converted with the man advantage as Bishop made two huge saves on Derek Stepan, but couldn’t make the third as Stepan bounced it off Tampa defenseman, Braydon Coburn, on another power play goal for the Rangers.

New York Rangers LogoStepan has recorded a goal in the last three games. The final two minutes of the period saw end-to-end hockey with chances for both teams. After two periods of play the Rangers still outshot Tampa twenty-two to fifteen.

The third period saw the opposite of the second period with the Rangers being the undisciplined team. Stepan took another tripping penalty in the first minute of the period. Even though the Rangers killed it off, the Lightning kept the puck in the zone as Killorn netted his first of the night, making it 4-2.

A few moments later Brassard took his second penalty of the game and got 2 minutes for high sticking. Tampa capitalized on the ensuing power play with Steven Stamkos deflecting a shot in front of the net by Lundqvist. At this point it became frustrating for the Rangers as Lundqvist allowed two goals on three shots. Things started to become edgy as Tanner Glass took a 2-minute minor penalty for roughing and a 10 minute game misconduct for a scrum in Tampa’s end.

Killorn then capitalized on his second goal of the night in what was another power play goal for the Lightning. The Rangers continued to shoot on Bishop, but couldn’t find a hole. New York outshot Tampa for the entire game finishing with thirty-seven shots on goal compared to Tampa’s twenty six.

Game 2 saw an amazing performance by the league leader in playoff goals, Tyler Johnson. In Game 1 Johnson had 1 point with the assist on Ondrej Palat’s goal. In Game 2 he had a 3-point night by scoring his team’s first 3 goals of the game.

His actions woke his team up and the woke Tampa’s first line up as Alex Killorn had 2 goals and Steven Stamkos netted one on Monday night. Tampa’s stars decided to show up and let the Rangers what they are truly made of.

It was the opposite for the Rangers, despite Kreider and Stepan scoring goals, you have to wonder where are Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis in this series, let alone the playoffs as a whole. If it wasn’t for Kreider and Stepan how would the Rangers be in the playoffs? Both St. Louis and Nash had great chances in the game, but couldn’t seem to beat Ben Bishop.

The series is now tied at 1-1 and Game 3 will be in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday May 20th at 8 pm and will be televised on NBCSN.

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