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Rapid Reaction: Lightning 6, Rangers 2

5/18/2015

NEW YORK -- Backed by a hat trick from Tyler Johnson, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Rangers 6-2 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday night at Madison Square Garden. This series is tied at 1-1.

How it happened: Johnson scored a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal and an even-strength goal. He now has 11 goals in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was also his fourth multi-point game of the postseason, which is a franchise record. His shorthanded goal came at 5 minutes, 38 seconds of the first period to give Tampa a 1-0 lead. While killing the penalty, the Rangers' Martin St. Louis fell trying to quarterback the PP just inside the blue line. Johnson raced to collect the loose puck and broke in on a partial breakaway. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made the initial save, but Johnson swiped at the rebound and pushed the puck across the line. After the Rangers knotted the game at 1-1 on Chris Kreider's power-play goal at 8:50 of the first, Johnson netted his power-play goal for a 2-1 advantage at 11:15 of the first. Johnson then completed his hat trick with the help of a greasy goal at 8:17 of the second period to give the Lightning a two-goal lead. With the puck loose in front of Lundqvist, a scramble ensued when Johnson's second effort pushed the puck across. The Rangers put on a late-period surge in the second on Derek Stepan's power-play goal at 14:17. Tampa stifled New York's momentum when Alex Killorn scored at 3:09 of the third period for a 4-2 lead. Tampa wasn't done. Steven Stamkos scored a power-play goal to give the Lightning a 5-2 lead at 6:28. Just for good measure, Killorn scored his second goal of the game, on the power play, for a 6-2 advantage. Lundqvist's career playoff record in Game 2s fell to 5-12.

What it means: It means we have a series. Before the game, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he wanted his team to be more physical and "knock them around." Game 2 was a penalty-riddled affair and a lot more physical than Game 1. In total, there were 34 minutes in penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct to the Rangers' Tanner Glass. Both teams turned up the hate meter in this one. The Lightning took the Rangers off the game that gave them success in Game 1. If Tampa can continue to play this way, it will make things difficult for New York. Each team went 2-for-5 on its respective power-play chances.

Save of the game: Although Lundqvist finished with 20 saves and Tampa's Ben Bishop made 35 stops, it was Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman with the save of the game. With the Lightning holding a 3-2 lead late in the second period, Bishop attempted to play the puck behind the net, but Rangers' James Sheppard forced a turnover and had a golden opportunity to tie the game on a wraparound attempt, but Hedman slid into the crease and kept the puck from crossing the goal line. That proved crucial because the Rangers kept buzzing around the offensive zone for the remainder of the period but couldn't capitalize.

Injured: This time it wasn't a player. Late in the second period, linesman Brad Kovachik suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury after caught in a collision near the penalty boxes. A Rangers team trainer tended to the on-ice official and Kovachik needed help off the ice and did not return. Standby linesman Greg Devorski replaced Kovachik.

Up next: With the series tied at 1-1, it now shifts to Tampa for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, at Amalie Arena.