They even added their names to the franchise history books, too.
Johnson and Palat each scored their first career NHL goals, and Mathieu Garon turned back 21 of 22 shots faced as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in front of a 15th consecutive sellout crowd of 19,204.
It was the first time in the 20-year history of the franchise that a pair of Lightning teammates recorded their first career NHL goals in the same game.
“A lot of emotions,” Johnson said. “Glad to see it go in, and it’s something that I’ll always remember.”
The victory snapped a five-game losing skid at home for the Lightning, which prior to Saturday night, last won at the Times Forum on February 19 in a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
More importantly, it stalled Carolina’s chances of moving up further at the top of the Southeast Division standings, as the Lightning improved to 12-15-1 with 25 points, now just six behind the first-place Hurricanes.
“I’m pleased with the result,” Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher said. “We’ve played this way in 14 of our last 16 games, but we just didn’t get the result. So, I was pleased tonight.”
Eric Staal had Carolina’s only goal on the night, and spoiled Garon’s bid for a 21st career shutout at 6:21 of the final frame.
Garon, making his first appearance in net since March 4, improved to 3-0-0 against the Hurricanes this season.
Carolina, meanwhile, lost for the second time in as many games.
Justin Peters made 22 saves in the defeat.
“We felt like we played a pretty good game to be honest,” Staal said. “There were areas where I thought we could have tightened up a little bit, but overall the work ethic and the compete level was there.”
Johnson opened the scoring just past the halfway point when he zipped a wrist shot past Peters for a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay then went up 2-0 in the second when Palat tipped in a shot from the point from Sami Salo that snuck past Peters.
“From the their first shift on the ice, they were everywhere,” Boucher said of rookies Johnson and Palat. “We knew they were skilled, we knew they were fast and we knew that they worked hard.”
Thompson extended the Lightning lead to 3-0 at 12:55 of the middle frame when he finished off a breakaway by shielding off the defender with the body and lifting a wrist shot high above Peters for his fourth of the season.
Carolina finally got on the board at 6:21 of the third after Eric Staal beat Garon less than three minutes after Purcell brought the score to 4-0 in favor of the Lightning.