TAMPA — The Lightning likely would not be in the Stanley Cup final had it not been for All-Star C Tyler Johnson.
Johnson has carried Tampa Bay at times this postseason, putting himself in the conversation for playoff MVP with his buzzer-beater in a Game 3 win against the Canadiens in the second round and his hat trick in a Game 2 win against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final. He leads the league with 12 postseason goals.
But Johnson enters tonight's Game 2 of the Cup final against the Blackhawks having gone five games without a goal. He has just three assists in that stretch, two coming on RW Nikita Kucherov's garbage-time goals in a Game 6 loss to the Rangers.
The Blackhawks have made it their primary concern to stop Johnson and his "Triplets" line, which includes Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, and are being physical with him; D Brent Seabrook delivered a pretty big hit on Johnson in Game 1 on Wednesday.
C Vladislav Namestnikov rotated in with Johnson on the Triplets line more than usual in Friday's practice. Johnson was unavailable for comment later because he was having treatment.
Coach Jon Cooper said he isn't concerned about Johnson not scoring.
"Guys can go through a roller-coaster ride," Cooper said. "I don't know anybody that can score at a pace that (Johnson) was going on. Look at his line, though. He may not have scored, but his line scored. He's picking up assists. He's such a huge part of our team. There's not an ounce of worry about the fact that he's not scoring."
BITE NIGHT: Neither Chicago RW Andrew Shaw nor Lightning D Victor Hedman wanted to talk about whether Shaw bit Hedman during Game 1.
"I'm not going to go into details," Shaw said Friday. "We're here to focus on the next game."
The questions arose because of a first-period scrum after Hedman went after Blackhawks star Patrick Kane and Shaw joined.
"He went after one of our better players," Shaw said. "That creates the scrums. We're just battling out there. I expect battles with him in front of the net the rest of the series as well."
The league isn't disciplining Shaw.
"I'm not going to comment on that anymore," Hedman said. "Things happen during games."
KILLER GOAL: Lightning LW Alex Killorn still wasn't sure what happened during his opening goal in Game 1, but he said it's a play he can make only a couple of times out of 100. Killorn said the puck might have been tipped before his no-look deflection into the net. The puck was traveling slower than usual, he said. "Usually it's a hard shot, you kind of tip it," Killorn said. "To whack at it from behind, it's kind of tough."
ICE CHIPS: Chicago kept C Jonathan Toews and Kane on the same line with LW Brandon Saad during practice. … Blackhawks D Trevor van Riemsdyk said he's ready to play after being sidelined since November with injuries, but coach Joel Quenneville hinted that he might not change his lineup for Game 2.