Lightning thump the Rangers to tie the Eastern Conference Final, updates on the Ducks and Blackhawks, Flyers hire a new head coach and more.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Tyler Johnson became the first player in Lightning history to score a playoff hat trick as he led his club to a 6-2 drubbing of the New York Rangers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final. The victory tied the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
Johnson became only the fourth player in the past 25 years to tally a playoff hat trick consisting of a shorthanded goal, a power-play tally and an even-strength marker. It was also his fourth multigoal game of the postseason, making him the first player to do that in the playoffs since 2003. Alex Killorn scored twice, Nikita Kucherov collected three assists and Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist. Ben Bishop made 35 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dominating effort by the Lightning made possible by undisciplined play by the Rangers.
Five Three of the Lightning’s six goals came on the power-play, while the shorthanded goal came with the Rangers on an early five-on-three. The Blueshirts generated more shots and some good scoring chances of their own, but their parade to the penalty box proved costly against the Bolts lethal power play. As for Johnson, he’s my favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP if the Lightning go all the way. He’s the leading goal scorer in the playoffs by a wide margin and currently leads Anaheim’s Corey Perry in the points race. Johnson’s been clutch for Tampa Bay throughout this postseason.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The balanced depth of the Anaheim Ducks defense is finally earning respect in this year’s playoffs.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Kyle Cumiskey is expected to replace David Rundblad on the Blackhawks blueline for Game Two of their Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rundblad really struggled against the Ducks in Game One. It’ll be interesting to see how Cumiskey fares in Game Two.
NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday announced Dave Hakstol, former head coach of the University of North Dakota, has been named their new bench boss.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After weeks of speculation suggesting the Flyers were pursuing several current and former NHL coaches (including Mike Babcock and Todd McLellan), GM Ron Hextall makes a selection no hockey insider saw coming. Known for his intensity, Hakstol had a solid record in the NCAA. Current NHL stars Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford played for Hakstol, so he has experience molding promising youngsters into future NHL stars. US college coaches making the jump to the NHL is a rare occurrence. Hakstol will face considerable pressure to help turn the Flyers back into a perennial playoff contender. Should he succeed, it could result in more NCAA coaches joining the NHL ranks.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Long-time Blue Jackets assistant GM Chris MacFarland is moving on to a similar position with the Colorado Avalanche.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators share details of their festivities planned for when they host the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The $500 million expansion fee could prove a significant stumbling block in bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle.