Johnson lifts Lightning past Devils 7-6
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — This time, the Tampa Bay Lightning eked out a victory.
Tyler Johnson scored 1:16 into overtime and the Lightning rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils 7-6 on Wednesday night, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since late March 2018.
“Did the game play out like we wanted in the end? Sure it did,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper, who complained about his team taking too many penalties and losing momentum and rhythm time and again. “I was proud of the way the guys rallied to bail this out.”
Ondrej Palat scored twice for the banged-up Lightning, who surrendered a tying goal to Kyle Palmieri in the waning seconds. Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph also scored, and Curtis McElhinney made 36 saves.
“Huge points but there’s still room for improvement,” said Palat, who had the primary assist on the game-winner. “We need to be better in our own zone, stop on pucks and win battles. There were too many chances we gave up, and we need to be better.”
Palmieri scored three goals and Jesper Bratt had two for the Devils. Sami Vatanen scored early in the third period for a 5-3 lead, and Cory Schneider had 16 saves.
“Look I mean I am probably not going to say a whole lot,” Schneider said. “My teammates played well enough to win. We deserved to win that game and scored six goals and should win going away. The difference tonight was in net so the game speaks for itself.”
Johnson’s fourth of the season came from the inside of the right circle after Ryan McDonagh had a chance in close.
“Mac and Palat made tremendous plays there,” Johnson said. “I kind of got lost in the slot and everyone was just kind of down and out and Ondrej made a great play to me and I was just able to put it in.”
It looked as if Tampa Bay was headed for a win in regulation when Palat broke a 5-all tie on a turnaround shot from the right circle with 3:57 left.
But Palmieri forced overtime by scoring on a rebound with 7.4 seconds to play. It was his first hat trick with New Jersey and the second of his career.
Palmieri, Bratt and Vatanen scored three straight goals to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead in the opening minute of the third period.
Playing their second game in as many nights, the Lightning found a way to tie the game at 5. Cirelli deflected a shot by defenseman Jan Rutta past Schneider at 2:45. Joseph tied it at 7:45 when his centering pass deflected into the net off the skate and stick of Devils forward Taylor Hall.
Hall was annoyed after the game with the Devils’ fans, saying he feels the team is battling its fans after a 2-5-3 start.
“We’re 1 for 3 on the power play and getting booed,” he said. “It’s a tied game and we are getting booed. That’s a tough environment to play in, especially when you are home. I know when we are playing somewhere and their fans start booing it’s a fun environment for the away team to play in. I understand the fans’ frustration. After the game if they are booing us losing that’s fine.”
NOTES: The Lightning played without F Pat Maroon, who got hurt during Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers. ... Tampa Bay called up Fs Cory Conacher and Alexander Volkov and D Luke Schenn from the minors earlier in the day. Only Conacher was not in the lineup. Volkov, a 2017 draft choice, made his NHL debut. ... Bratt was a healthy scratch in the Devils’ last game, Friday night against Arizona. ... Palmieri’s other hat trick was with Anaheim.
Lightning: Finish three-game New York-metropolitan area swing at Islanders on Friday.
Devils: Host Flyers on Friday, ending six-game homestand.
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