TAMPA ó Lightning coach Jon Cooper said if he were to circle the names of the forwards who continued to work hard during the teamís recent slump, he would draw one around Tyler Johnson.
The goals werenít coming for Johnson, but it wasnít for lack of effort. Because of that, Cooper said, Johnson earned more ice time.
Saturday against the Sharks, effort plus ice time equaled results for Johnson, who snapped a career-high 15-game goal drought with a pair of goals in the Lightningís 5-2 victory at Amalie Arena in front of an announced crowd of 19,022.
"Itís just a matter of time, and (Saturday) it was his time," Cooper said.
It was also time for Nikita Kucherov to break his six-game goal drought with two.
Kucherov, who leads the league with 38 points and is tied with the Capitalsí Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 19, scored his first of the night 27 seconds into the second period to tie the score at 1.
The next two Lightning goals came from Johnson, who last scored Oct. 24 at Carolina.
"Iíd be lying if I said it wasnít tough," Johnson said of his November to not remember. "You just have to keep going.
"The season is a long season. Sometimes things go our way. Sometimes they donít. Every once in a while you get the break. You got to keep working hard and do what you do. You canít really control that much. It was just one of those things that was bound to change, and it changed (Saturday)."
Johnsonís first goal came 1:39 into the third with the Lightning on a power play. Ondrej Palat intentionally shot the puck from the blue line off the end board to the left of the Sharksí net. Johnson caught up to the puck as it bounced back and blasted it past Sharks goalie Martin Jones.
The Lightning has scored a power-play goal in its past six games and 12 of its past 13.
Johnsonís second goal, at 5:49 of the third, came when he batted in a puck that was cleared off the goal line by Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon.
"Thatís how hockey goes," Johnson said. "Sometimes you get the chances and the bounces donít go your way, and other times you kind of get those garbage goals that find a way to go in. Lucky for me I was able to find a way to break through.
"The last couple of games I had my chances, and it just didnít go my way. Itís just a matter of time. I just have to keep going. Lucky (Saturday) was the night."
Johnson was moved up to the top line with Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov. He was also moved from center to wing.
The change of scenery helped a little, Johnson said.
"It was fun playing with them with the skill that they have," he said.
The Lightning (18-6-2), which entered the night with four losses in its previous six games, leads the NHL with 38 points. Cooper said his team played better from start to finish against the Sharks than it had at any point during the 1-3 road trip that ended November.
The Lightning turned the puck over too many times on the road. As a result, it found itself constantly chasing the puck. It was a different story against the Sharks, one that looked an awful lot like the story the Lightning was writing before its slide.
"It was only a matter of time for us," Cooper said.
And for Johnson.
First Periodó1, San Jose, Goodrow 1 (OíRegan, Carpenter), 16:58. PenaltiesóNone.
Second Periodó2, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 18 (Point, Palat), 0:27. PenaltiesóDillon, SJ, (interference), 7:58; Killorn, TB, (slashing), 9:01; Thornton, SJ, (high sticking), 19:56.
Third Periodó3, Tampa Bay, Johnson 5 (Sergachev, Palat), 1:39 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Johnson 6, 5:49. 5, Tampa Bay, Conacher 2 (Killorn, Gourde), 11:01. 6, San Jose, Braun 1 (OíRegan), 13:37. 7, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 19, 15:37. PenaltiesóNone. Shots on GoalóSan Jose 8-8-11ó27. Tampa Bay 15-16-12ó43. Power-play opportunitiesóSan Jose 0 of 1; Tampa Bay 1 of 2. GoaliesóSan Jose, Jones 10-5-1 (43 shots-38 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 16-4-1 (27-25). Aó19,022 (19,092). Tó2:33. RefereesóBrad Meier, Brian Pochmara. LinesmenóRyan Daisy, Greg Devorski.