Three Stars: Johnson, Luongo, Keith shine on Friday
On a busy, but exciting, Friday night, the Lightning took a 2–0 series lead over the Red Wings, the Panthers leveled the series vs. the Islanders, the Blackhawks used some controversial calls to sneak past the Blues to tie the series and the Predators outlasted the Ducks in Game 1.
Here is who stood out the most on Friday:
1. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Something about playing the Red Wings this time of year just brings out the best in Johnson. The diminutive center scored twice in the third period and added a pair of assists to lead the Bolts to a 5–2 victory over Detroit in Game 2 at Amalie Arena. His four points tied a franchise single-game playoff record and provided a boost to the injury-riddled Lightning. “When you have the likes of Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman on the sidelines [with injuries], somebody has to carry the mail,” coach Jon Cooper said. “Right now, it’s Johnny.”
Johnson now has six points in the series to run his totals to eight goals and 13 points in nine playoff games against the Wings over the past two seasons.
2. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
A tip o’ the hat to forward Reilly Smith, who turned in his second multi-point effort in as many nights, but it was Luongo who may have saved Florida's season Friday night. The veteran netminder rebounded magnificently from a frustrating Game 1 performance, making 41 saves to lead the Panthers to a 3–1 victory over the Islanders. Though he lost his shutout bid to a late John Tavares goal, Luongo still managed to pick up his first playoff win in five years.
3. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Keith returned from his six-game suspension in top form, scoring a buzzer-beating equalizer in the second period and setting up the eventual game-winner late in the third to power the Blackhawks to a controversial 3–2 win in St. Louis. Fresh after spending two weeks away from the ice, he topped the charts in minutes played (30:59) and shots attempted (nine), and seemed to grow stronger as the game wore on—a key factor as the Hawks slowly wrestled control of the contest away from the Blues midway through the second.