Call them the new Triplets.
Call them the Johnson line.
Call them the Detroit destroyers.
Whatever you call the Tampa Bay Lighting’s Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov-Alex Killorn line, they seem to be taking over the NHL playoffs. Certainly, they are outskating the Detroit Red Wings. It is early in the season, but it is fair to say that if Detroit cannot do a better job of slowing them down, this series may be over with in a hurry.
The Lightning took a solid 2-0 lead in their playoff Friday night, getting a pair of goals from Johnson and one each from Killorn and Kucherov. In two games, that line has 15 points (goals and assists) to pace Tampa Bay.
“It’s just two games, and we have to play three and four in a tough building (the Joe Louis Arena),” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
Still, 2-0 is better than the 1-1 start of a year ago.
“We took care of tonight,” said Lightning forward Brian Boyle, who also scored. “That’s all we did. It’s the playoffs; it’s a group of one-game series.”
The Lightning led 1-0 on Kucherov’s goal and 2-1 on Boyle’s. But former Lightning player Brad Richards’s tied the score at two early in the third period.
After that, it was the Johnson show. He scored at 6:32, then again at 14:48 as the Lightning built its lead. Killorn added another at 17:18 to make the final 5-2.
The game ended with a brawl.
“I didn’t think they pulled anything,” said Johnson. “It was just playoff hockey, hard-nosed playoff hockey. You play until the buzzer goes off, and it hadn’t gone off.”
Tampa Bay improved to 31-11-1 this season when Bishop gives up two goals or fewer.
The Lightning plays on Sunday and Tuesday in Detroit. If needed, game five would be played in Tampa on Thursday night.