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Johnson, Lightning defeat Red Wings to force Game 7

by Paul Harris /

DETROIT -- Tyler Johnson scored two goals, the first one less than four minutes into the game, and the Tampa Bay Lightning forced Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings with a 5-2 win Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

"The first goal changes the game. It changes the way you play, your structure and your system," said Johnson, who has six goals and an assist in the series.

Game 7 is Wednesday in Tampa (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, FS-D, SUN).

"You see it. That's impressive what he's doing right now," Lightning forward Ryan Callahan said of Johnson. "It speaks for itself."

Alex Killorn, Jason Garrison and Cedric Paquette also scored for Tampa Bay in its Game 6 victory. Nikita Kucherov assisted on each of the first three Lightning goals, and Ben Bishop made 22 saves.

"We skated. That's what changed." Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Pucks were going tape to tape, and we put them in areas we could get them."

Tomas Tatar scored Detroit's goals, and Petr Mrazek made 23 saves.

"We have to get our mind right again and get ready for a Game 7," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "No team's been able to win two games in a row thus far in the series, so let's go to Tampa. I thought we were going along pretty fine there at the start, then next thing you know it's in our net."

Tatar brought the Red Wings to within 3-2 at 1:39 of the third period with his second goal of the night. Off a faceoff in the Lightning zone, he got control of a bouncing puck in front of the net, turned around and put it past Bishop for his third goal of the playoffs.

But Killorn scored with 5:09 left to restore Tampa Bay's two-goal lead. He picked up a loose puck, cut around Detroit defenseman Marek Zidlicky and tucked a shot under the crossbar for his second goal of the playoffs.

Paquette scored a shorthanded goal into an empty net in the final minute with Mrazek off for the extra attacker.

"It was nice to score a couple of goals, especially in this building. We needed them," Tampa Bay center Brian Boyle said. "... Just gave us a chance to play another game. Pretty much the same situation."

Johnson opened the scoring 3:47 into the game. He cut in off the left wing, got around Detroit defenseman Dan DeKeyser and beat Mrazek high on the short side from the bottom of the left circle.

The play was set up by a long pass from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman from his own zone to Kucherov just outside the Red Wings blue line. Kucherov then passed to Johnson, who had built up speed coming down the left side.

"It kind of helped us out today, getting more room and speed out there," Johnson said. "We were moving our legs, making it more difficult for them. That had a lot to do with desperation."

Garrison made it 2-0 with 8:50 left in the first period. He moved in on a rush to make it a 4-on-3, took a cross-ice pass from Steven Stamkos and beat Mrazek with a wrist shot from the inside edge of the left circle. It was Garrison's first goal of the playoffs.

Johnson's second goal of the night made it 3-0 at 9:09 of the second period. He put in a wrist shot from the high slot off the rush.

Tatar put Detroit on the board with a power-play goal with 7:34 left in the second. He beat Bishop with a wrist shot from the right circle.

Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall laid a heavy check on Kucherov with about a minute left in the second period just inside the Tampa Bay zone. Kronwall's shoulder and elbow made contact with Kucherov's head, but there was no penalty.

"It's intense game, and those things happen. It's just hits. It's just a part of the game," Kucherov said. "It's a hit. He made a hit. I'm not going to cry now. It's a part of the game. That's why we play here."

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