TAMPA, Fla. – Tyler Johnson’s slow start seems like a long time ago now.
Johnson had three goals, Jake Dotchin scored a tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 on Tuesday night.
“Just being in the right spot at the right time,” Johnson said.
NHL-leading Tampa Bay also got a goal from Victor Hedman, and Brayden Point had three assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves.
“It was a good game all around,” Johnson said.
Justin Faulk, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn and Sebastian Aho scored for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward stopped 29 shots.
“It’s tough,” Faulk said. “They’re at the top of the standings for a reason. When they get those leads, they do a pretty job of either building on them or keeping them.”
Dotchin made it 4-3 with his first goal in 14 games at 9:27 of the third. Johnson then completed his third regular-season hat trick when he stole the puck from Noah Hanifin and scored from just outside the crease at 14:54.
“What a remarkable goal,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Johnson has scored 12 of 16 goals since Dec. 1.
Lindholm scored with 1:18 left to cut it to 5-4, but Tampa Bay held on.
After Johnson’s rebound backhand went into the net off Faulk’s skate at 1:58 of the second, Faulk tied it at 3 with 9:24 left in the period on Carolina’s second power-play goal.
The Hurricanes twice took one-goal leads, on scores by McGinn and Aho, in the first, but the period ended with the game tied at 2 due to goals by Hedman and Johnson.
Aho was in the lineup three days after leaving Saturday’s 7-1 loss at Boston following a scary looking leg injury.
Chris Kunitz appeared to put Tampa Bay up 4-3 early in the third, but the goal was disallowed following a video replay that determined the play was offside.
The Lightning have gone two consecutive games without a power play. The Hurricanes converted two of four chances.
NOTES: Hedman could not put any weight on his left skate when he left the ice with three minutes left in the second, but he returned two minutes later. … Tampa Bay D Dan Girardi, who took a slap shot off the back of his neck in Sunday’s game at Detroit, took part in the pregame skate but didn’t play. … Carolina RW Lee Stempniak (upper-body injury) could make his NHL season debut this week. … McGinn stopped an 18-game drought with his first-period goal on the power play. … Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov assisted on Hedman’s goal for his 60th point, coming in his 43rd game. Only Vincent Lecavalier, taking 41 games in 2007-08, reached 60 points quicker in Tampa Bay history.
Hurricanes: Play Thursday night at Washington.
Lightning: Host Calgary Thursday night.
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