New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Tyler Johnson had a hat trick to power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-2 win over the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Johnson scored a short-handed goal, a power-play goal and an even-strength goal for the first playoff hat trick in Lightning history. The diminutive forward, who went undrafted, leads the NHL with 11 goals and 16 points this postseason.
"The bigger the game, the better he plays. That's Tyler Johnson," said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. "It's unreal to watch. He put the team on his back, and we all followed."
Alex Killorn had two goals and an assist and Nikita Kucherov collected three assists, helping Tampa Bay even the series. Ben Bishop turned aside 35 New York shots.
Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals for the Rangers, who had played 15 consecutive one-goal games in the playoffs. Henrik Lundqvist allowed all six Tampa Bay goals on 26 shots.
Game 3 will be played in Tampa on Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay forward Brian Boyle, who missed Saturday's series opener because of an undisclosed injury, committed an early holding penalty. He was joined in the penalty box 53 seconds later by defenseman Jason Garrison, who was called for delay of game after firing the puck over the glass.
With New York's two-man advantage winding down, a turnover by Martin St. Louis triggered a breakaway for Johnson. St. Louis hustled back in an attempt to break up the play and wound catching a piece of Lundqvist as he crashed into the right post. Johnson tapped in his own rebound just as the net was dislodged.
Though Johnson's goal was initially waved off, a video review determined that the puck crossed the line prior to the net coming off, giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead at 5:38.
New York tied the game later in the first period with Brenden Morrow off for high-sticking. Bishop made a save on Dan Boyle's point shot that was redirected by St. Louis, but Kreider buried the rebound at 8:50.
The Lightning regained the lead on a 4-on-3 power play at 11:15 of the first. Johnson took a pass from Steven Stamkos and beat Lundqvist over the glove with a shot from the bottom of the left circle.
Johnson scored on a goalmouth scramble after Ondrej Palat hit the post to make it 3-1 at 8:17 of the second period.
"Without a doubt he took his game to another level tonight," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We need our top guys to do the same thing."
The Rangers cut their deficit to 3-2 on a power play with 5:43 remaining in the second. Stepan was behind the net and banked the puck in off Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn with Bishop out of position.
Bishop made two big saves early in the third, stopping a short-handed bid from Rick Nash and the rebound attempt by Jesper Fast.
Killorn scored seven seconds after the power play expired to give Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead. Victor Hedman faked a shot and sent a cross-ice pass to Killorn, who fired a shot from the right circle into an open net at 3:09.
Stamkos deflected Coburn's point shot past Lundqvist on another Tampa Bay power play at 6:28.
Killorn scored his second goal of the period with 2:02 remaining.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson set a franchise record with four multi-goal games in one postseason ... Johnson is one goal shy of tying the club record for the most goals in one postseason. Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko had 12 in 2004 ... Stepan has scored in three straight games ... Linesman Brad Kovachik left the game in the second period with a sprained knee after a collision along the boards. Kovachik was replaced by Greg Devorski.