Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Tyler Johnson shakes off injury, plays against Red Wings

TAMPA — Though C Tyler Johnson was cagey about his status the past few days, he played in Wednesday's Game 1.

No surprise.

And Johnson set up the game's first goal, racing up the left side before finding RW Nikita Kucherov for a one-timer in the first period.

Johnson sustained an upper-body injury in Saturday's regular-season finale at Montreal, hitting his head/shoulder into the boards on a post-whistle shove by the Canadiens' Greg Pateryn. But Johnson felt good after skating Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

He is used to playing through pain, having battled through a broken wrist during last season's Stanley Cup final, though he couldn't take faceoffs and struggled to shoot.

The injury didn't seem to impact him Wednesday against the Red Wings.

Johnson saw 16:15 of ice time and won eight faceoffs. He followed up his first assist with an even more pivotal play by firing a pass that Alex Killorn tipped in for the winner with 11:08 left.

"It's the playoffs, so you're pretty amped up," Johnson said. "Adrenaline's going. I felt pretty good. Playing with Kuch and Killer definitely helped. They made the game easy."

FAMILIAR FOE: Cooper said the matchup between he and long-time friend Jeff Blashill, the Red Wings' coach, will be more for bragging rights on the golf course this summer.

But Cooper, whose relationship with Blashill goes back to their days with the Honeybaked hockey club in Michigan, said he wasn't especially looking forward to facing a buddy.

"I just wish we weren't playing each other until the final," Cooper said. "I know that's unrealistic, but to play in the first round kind of sucks because one of us isn't going to advance."

Cooper said jokingly: "We have a friendship, and this will never divide that. Unless he reaches around and squirts a water bottle on me, then that might."

HEAVY HEART: There was a moment of silence before the game for the late Ed Snider, co-founder of the Flyers, who died Monday.

"He was an unbelievable man, and my condolences to his family," said D Braydon Coburn, who played for the Flyers from 2007-2015. "It's definitely sad. He was a heart-and-soul guy, he really cared about his team, he cared about the fans and cared about the players. It's sad, but he left an unbelievable legacy that will definitely live on."

EXTRA EYES: Wednesday marked the debut of blue line cameras, instituted for the playoffs to help with coaches' challenges on offsides penalties. The cameras became important in the third period, when Detroit challenged a missed call on what would have been the go-ahead goal. The call was overturned.

NUTS AND BOLTS: C Steven Stamkos, who had vascular surgery last week, is out of the hospital. … C Vladislav Namestnikov played on a line with C Brian Boyle and RW Mike Blunden. RW Jonathan Marchessault, RW Erik Condra and D Matt Taormina were healthy scratches.

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