Tampa's Tyler Johnson #9 of celebrates his second goal against the Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final Monday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Lightning star center Tyler Johnson led all playoff scorers through the first two rounds. And he continued that hot streak by scoring twice more in the first period of Game 2 of Tampa's third-round series against the Rangers Monday. Johnson is shaping up as a strong candidate for playoff MVP.
With eight goals in 14 games, Lightning center Tyler Johnson led all playoff scorers through two rounds. And he continued the hot streak Monday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final by scoring the first goal of the night – and then Tampa's second of the game – to give the Bolts a 2-1 lead on the New York Rangers after 20 minutes of play.
Johnson's ninth of the post-season was a shorthanded goal 5:38 into the opening frame after a turnover from former Lightning star Martin St-Louis:
The Rangers tied it some three minutes later on a Chris Kreider power play goal, but Johnson struck again at the 11:15 mark with a man advantage goal of his own:
Johnson's second goal gave him 15 points in as many post-season games this year. The 24-year-old is shaping up to be a prime candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Sure enough, Johnson scored the hat trick – the first playoff hat trick in Bolts franchise history – with his third of Game 2 at the 8:17 mark of the second period:
The goal, which put Tampa up 3-1, gave Johnson a shorthanded goal, power play goal and regular-strength goal in Game 2. He's proving to be a special player – and a valuable contributor to take pressure off star Steven Stamkos.