TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tyler Johnson broke out a scoring slump just in time to help the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning.
Johnson scored twice in the third period to snap a 15-game drought and the Lightning beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 Saturday night.
”That’s how hockey goes,” said Johnson, who entered with four goals. ”Sometimes you get the chances and bounces and they don’t go your way. Other times, you get those garbage goals that just find a way to go in. Luckily for me I was able to breakthrough.”
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Nikita Kucherov had two goals and Cory Conacher also scored for the Lightning, who had lost four of six. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves. Kucherov had one of Tampa Bay’s four goals, his 19th, in the third. He entered without a goal over his previous six games.
After Johnson had an in-close backhand power-play goal 1:39 into the third, the center made it 3-1 at 5:49 on a rebound goal after Martin Jones made a nifty save during Victor Hedman’s breakaway.
”He’s earned it.” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. ”When you’re doing the right things and you’re working, it’s just a matter of time.”
Barclay Goodrow and Justin Braun had goals for San Jose, and Jones stopped 38 shots in his return after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
”Our goalie was outstanding,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. ”He was by far our best player. We didn’t have enough contributions. We would have needed 20 guys, plus Jones’ effort.”
Goodrow, activated from injured reserve after sitting out seven games, put the Sharks up 1-0 at 16:58 of the first on his first goal since Feb. 13, 2015 that ended a 44-game drought. It was his fifth goal, coming in his 84th career NHL game.
Kucherov tied it at 1 just 27 seconds into the second.
”We had a chance with 20 minutes to go to get some points and we didn’t,” DeBoer said. ”That’s a disappointment.”
Conacher and Braun also had third-period goals.
Jones turned aside Ryan Callahan’s in-close shot that went off a San Jose defender in the first, a period where the Sharks were outshot 15-8. Tampa Bay also dominated second-period shots 16-8.
Tampa Bay’s top-ranked power play went 1 for 2 against the Sharks’ second-best NHL short-handed unit. San Jose failed on its one man-advantage chance.
NOTES: The Sharks dropped to 7-3-1 on the road. … San Jose placed RW Joonas Donskoi and D Tim Heed on IR. … Tampa Bay C Cedric Paquette served a one-game suspension for a boarding penalty Wednesday against Boston. … Lightning D Braydon Coburn (knee-to-knee hit) didn’t play.
Sharks: Complete a four-game trip Monday night at Washington.
Lightning: Play the second of four straight home games Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.