NEW YORK – Tyler Johnson is carrying the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs and making a name for himself.
The 24-year-old is becoming one of the front-runners to be the postseason MVP. He scored short-handed, even strength and on the power play in tallying the first hat trick in Lightning playoff history, and Tampa Bay got its high-scoring offense in gear and evened the Eastern Conference finals with a 6-2 victory Monday over the stumbling New York Rangers.
"Oh, Tyler Johnson, the bigger the game, the better he plays," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "That's Tyler Johnson. It's unreal to watch. He put the team on his back, and we all followed."
Johnson has had four multiple goal-scoring postseason games, and each has followed a Lightning loss. The last player with four multiple goal-scoring games in the same postseason was Jamie Langenbrunner with the Devils in 2003, the league said.
"I'm just happy to be here and I'm living my dream," the 5-8 undrafted center said. "So that's what's driving me is to try to be the best I can and play for my family. They sacrificed so much for me to be here, and I'm living my dream, so I want to keep living it as long as possible."
Alex Killorn added two goals and Steven Stamkos had one and the Lightning bounced back from a crushing late loss Saturday and made the Presidents' Trophy winners pay for every slip, penalty and mistake.