Johnson, Kucherov score twice in Lightning victory
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tyler Johnson broke out of a month-long scoring slump with two goals to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the San Jose Sharks 5-2 on Saturday night.
Johnson scored twice in the third period to break a tie and end a 15-game drought without a goal dating to Oct. 24 at Carolina. Nikita Kucherov also scored twice to tie Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 19 while surpassing teammate Steven Stamkos for the league lead in points.
Cory Conacher, called up Friday, scored his second goal in as many games with the Lightning, who swept the season series from the Sharks.
Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 25 saves for his league-leading 17th victory of the season as the Lightning, who lost three of four, remain on top of the league standings with 38 points.
Martin Jones returned to the net for the Sharks after missing the previous two games because of an injury and made 38 saves. Barclay Goodrow and Justin Braun scored for San Jose, which saw a three-game winning streak end. The Sharks were 4-0-2 in their previous six games.
“Whoever’s in the lineup, we go out and expect to win,” San Jose captain Joe Pavelski said. “We get the lead, get a big goal and a lot of big saves from (Jones). And it just got away. They made a couple of really nice plays and took it to us.”
The Sharks got the lead late in the first period when Barclay Goodrow scored his first goal of the season and first since Feb. 13, a span of 45 games, on a rebound at 16:58. Kucherov tied the score on the first shift of the second period with a redirected backhand off a pass from Ondrej Palat at 27 seconds.
With the score tied heading in to the third period, Johnson snapped out of his slump.
Johnson scored his first of the night to put Tampa Bay in front as Palat sent a hard dump-in off the boards that caromed to a streaking Johnson, who lifted a quick backhand shot over Jones for a power-play goal at 1:39.
“We do that against San Jose because they gap pretty well, but the bounce was pretty good,” Palat said.
Just over four minutes later, Johnson notched his second of the game after a Victor Hedman chance popped up in the air behind Jones and was swept off the line by Brenden Dillon but right to Johnson, who had an open net to shoot to score his sixth goal of the season.
“That’s how hockey goes, sometimes you get the chances and the bounces don’t go your way and then other times you kind of get those garbage goals that just find a way to go in,” Johnson said. “So, luckily for me, I was able to break through tonight.”
Conacher made it 4-1 off an Alex Killorn pass 11:01 before Braun cut the deficit in half with 6:23 left in regulation.
Kucherov added an insurance goal with 4:23 remaining.
“It felt like we were a step slower than them all over the ice,” San Jose center Logan Couture. “We were lucky it was a 1-1 game and then they get one on the power play and the third one ... that was kind of the end of it.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay D Braydon Coburn missed the game with an undisclosed lower-body injury. ... Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov tied Vinny Prospal for sixth on the franchise goal scoring list with 127. ... The Lightning called up D Jamie McBain from Syracuse of the American Hockey League but he was a healthy scratch. ... Tampa Bay C Cedric Paquette missed the game while serving a one-game suspension. ... San Jose placed D Tim Heed and RW Joonas Donskoi on injured reserve. ... The Sharks scratched LW Marcus Sorensen, who was called up earlier in the day, along with LW Mikkel Boedker and C Melker Karlsson. ... The Lightning have a power-play goal in six consecutive games and 11 of the past 12. ... Tampa Bay LW Ondrej Palat registered his 50th career power-play point. ... San Jose’s last regulation loss came Nov. 18 against Boston.