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Jonathan Drouin delivers another 'big-time' goal

Jonathan Drouin, center, celebrates with teammates Vladislav Namestnikov (90) and Alex Killorn (17) after scoring against the Sharks.

AP photo

Jonathan Drouin, center, celebrates with teammates Vladislav Namestnikov (90) and Alex Killorn (17) after scoring against the Sharks.

20

January

It's hard to believe that just one year ago, Jonathan Drouin was out of hockey.

Drouin, 21, was at home in Montreal, holding out during his trade request saga.

It was the best trade the Lightning never made, as where would it be without him now?

Drouin is playing at another level, becoming a go-to-guy for Tampa Bay as it fights for its playoff life. The game appears to have slowed down for the touted wing, who looks like he's back in juniors with Halifax. Opposing teams just don't have an answer for him. Just ask San Jose, which became part of Drouin's highlight reel Thursday night.

On Drouin's game-tying power play goal, he took a play that was dead, and brought it back to life. After losing the puck at the blueline, Drouin collected himself in the neutral zone and blew past two San Jose defenders, including Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, before beating goalie Aaron Dell.

"That's just a big time skill play by a big time skill player," coach Jon Cooper said.

Drouin was, as usual, nonchalant when describing the goal, his 14th goal of the season: "I just got some speed. Vlasic was standing still so I just went wide, took it to the net."

But make no mistake, not many players could have pulled it off.

"I didn't think he had enough room to get it," Dell said. "He's a skilled player and he made a skilled play -- I didn't think he could get it around me on that one."

Vlasic laghed: ""I knew you'd ask me about that."

Drouin has 23 points in his last 22 games, amassing more points than any Lightning foward since Steven Stamkos suffered a knee injury in mid-November. He spoke recently how he's more comfortable in the league, and wants to play like a veteran.

"He can be really scary out there," goalie Ben Bishop said.

Opposing teams are finding that out the hard way.

[Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2017 2:05pm]

    

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