By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tyler Johnson's hat-trick powered the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Monday that leveled the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final at 1-1.
Johnson, a 24-year-old NHL All Star, scored a pair of goals in a frantic, penalty-filled first period and added another in the second, while towering netminder Ben Bishop stopped 34 of 36 shots to quieten the Madison Square Garden crowd.
The young Tampa Bay center scored the first three goals for the Lightning, who carried a 3-2 lead into the third period.
Alex Killorn scored twice and Steven Stamkos added another to supply the cushion in the final period.
It was the first time this postseason that a New York game was decided by more than a single goal.
There were 12 penalties called, including seven in the opening period, and a game misconduct issued to New York's Tanner Glass in the third, and the resulting power plays provided non-stop action though not always to the benefit of the team with the man advantage.
Johnson opened the scoring on a breakaway goal barely five minutes into the game while the Rangers were skating with a 5-on-3 advantage.
New York tied it at 1-1 when Chris Kreider stuffed in a rebound for a power play goal before Johnson struck again, beating goaltender Henrik Lundqvist from the left face-off circle for another power play goal.
Johnson made it 3-1 by flicking the puck into the net in traffic in front of the goal eight minutes into the second period, and Derek Stepan's goal six minutes later was as close as the Rangers would come.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)