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Goal record just a bonus for Tyler Johnson

Tyler Johnson gets congratulates from the bench after setting the Lightning rookie goal record (24) vs. the Flyers on Thursday.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Tyler Johnson gets congratulates from the bench after setting the Lightning rookie goal record (24) vs. the Flyers on Thursday.

TAMPA — Okay, Lightning F Tyler Johnson finally admitted, setting a team rookie record Thursday against the Flyers with his 24th goal was "pretty cool."

And having captain Steven Stamkos, who had the former record of 23, get the primary assist was "picturesque."

But really, Johnson said Friday, "It's not something I'm going to define my career on. I don't even know if it will ever come out of my mouth." Still, it is a fitting marker for Johnson in a season in which, entering Friday, his 50 points and 26 assists were third among league rookies. His 24 goals were tied for first.

"Pretty lofty stuff," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

For Johnson, though, more important was adapting to the NHL, which he said is a lot less hectic than the AHL, which makes it less instinctive.

"In the American league, everyone is going a million miles an hour just trying to kill people," Johnson said. "It's hectic out there, but it creates space because people are out of position. Up here, guys are so good at being in position, you don't have much time or space.

"It's a lot of thinking in the NHL. In the offensive zone, just try to find the limited open space that you can. It's not much."

Johnson, 23, found it against the Flyers and took a perfect pass from Stamkos before snapping a one-timer past G Ray Emery.

"I didn't have to do much with that goal," Johnson said. "(Stamkos) just kind of laid it in there for me, so it was perfect."

FEET WET: With the Lightning chasing home ice in the playoffs and Anders Lindback red hot, it was a small surprise rookie Kristers Gudlevskis got the start in net against the Blue Jackets. But Cooper said it was a must with only one regular-season game left, Sunday at Washington. "If something was to happen, you didn't want his first game to be a playoff game," Cooper said. "We wanted him to feel the environment, get this out of the way." The same with rookie Cedric Paquette, who was called up Friday. "Guys need some reps before we went into the playoffs," Cooper said.

COMING SOON, MAYBE: Andrey Vasilevskiy's KHL season ended Friday with Ufa's elimination from the playoffs, and Yzerman said his plan is to sign the goalie prospect "as soon as possible."

"I don't want to overstate or overhype anything," Yzerman said. "But he's got tremendous potential."

Drafted 19th overall in 2012, Vasilevskiy, 19, was 8-6-0 in 14 games for Ufa with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. His contract runs through April 30. The Lightning could sign him before that if Ufa agrees, though rumors are Ufa has offered a one-year extension.

MEDICAL MATTERS: D Sami Salo (upper body) sat out his second straight game.

ODDS AND ENDS: LW Ondrej Palat has four goals, four assists in a six-game points streak. … D Eric Brewer had a season-most 24:57 of ice time. … The Lightning is 7-11-2 with a tie in season home closers. … D Matt Carle played his 600th NHL game. … Forwards Cody Kunyk and Ryan Malone, defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio, and G Ben Bishop (elbow) also were scratched.

Goal record just a bonus for Tyler Johnson 04/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2014 11:54pm]
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