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Johnson goals critical as Lightning pull even in series

NHL.com @NHL

Trailing the Detroit Red Wings 2-0 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper knew his team needed a spark of some kind.

Enter center Tyler Johnson.

Johnson set up the tying goal and scored his second of the game in overtime as the Lightning rallied for a 3-2 victory that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2.

Johnson got the Lightning started with a 4-on-4 goal with 5:26 left in regulation that cut the deficit to 2-1. He took a pass from Anton Stralman in the neutral zone and, taking advantage of the open ice, raced past Red Wings forward Darren Helm down the left-wing boards, cut to the net and lifted a quick wrist shot from in close under the crossbar and past Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek.

"As soon as we got that first one we grew a couple inches on the bench," Cooper said. "It was like a weight off our shoulders. And clearly the game changed at that moment when we scored that goal. You could tell our guys had a fire in them that was not going to be put out."

One minute and 17 seconds later Johnson set up linemate Ondrej Palat, threading a pass to him in front for a goal that tied the game with 4:09 remaining in regulation.

Johnson finished his memorable night at 2:25 of overtime, capping a 3-on-1 rush with defenseman Victor Hedman and forward Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov forced Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser to lose the puck at the Lightning blue line. Hedman jumped on the loose puck in the neutral zone and led an odd-man rush along the right-wing boards. Johnson, a right-handed shot, followed down the left side, let Hedman know he was open and turned his body so he could bury a forehand shot into a nearly empty net.

"I don't know how we got a 3-on-1 but we did," Johnson said. "[Hedman] had the puck and I was actually telling him to try and pass it to [Kucherov] in the high slot because I thought on a 3-on-1 you can get to the middle a little easier. He made an unbelievable play to me and I was able to get enough on it to get it in there."

It was Johnson's second two-goal game of the series. And the Lightning, considered by many to be a Stanley Cup favorite, kept from falling into a 3-1 series hole heading into Game 5 on Saturday in Tampa (6 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN, FS-D, FS-F).

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