Every hockey team makes mistakes. The key is minimizing their damage. The Rangers were unable to overcome penalties, turnovers and some bad luck as the Lightning tied the Eastern Conference Finals with a 6-2 decision in New York Monday night.
Tyler Johnson struck early and often, collecting a hat trick just 32 minutes into the game.
Things weren’t quite right from the start for the Blue Shirts, as the Lightning went from two men down to one goal up. Tampa turned a 5-on-3 short-handed situation early in the first into an improbable goal after a trio of Lightning players were able to force a turnover and Johnson slipped the puck past Henrik Lundqvist just as half of the advantage expired.
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Not more than a few minutes later the Rangers took advantage of their second power play chance, as Chris Kreider shuffled a Dan Boyle slap shot into the equalizer. A third goal in the first came three minutes after that, as Johnson netted his second of the game.
After the first 20 minutes, the teams had already combined for 14 penalty minutes.
Johnson made it a hat trick on an odd man rush in the second period to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead, adding to his playoff-leading total (11 goals).
New York made it a game again later in the second frame, as an opportunistic Derek Stepan was able to ricochet a puck from behind the net off the foot of Tampa’s Braydon Coburn to cut the Lightning advantage to 3-2 after two periods.
In the third Tampa extended its lead with a goal off the stick of a man not named Johnson. On an early power play (the Rangers compiled 22 of the games 34 penalty minutes) Alex Killorn gave the Lighting a cushion upping their advantage to 4-2. Just minutes later Tampa added even more buffer with a Coburn slap shot that became a goal after being redirected by Stamkos. The Lightning netted their final goal with the outcome in hand, Killorn’s second of the game.
New York falls into a 1-1 tie in the series despite outshooting the Lightning 36-24 and winning 31 of 57 faceoffs. They can get back home-ice advantage back in Game 3 Wednesday in Tampa.