TAMPA—Adam Erne landed the one-timer and threw himself into the glass. It had been a while (a 26-game while) and that goal deserved a celebration.
“I thought it was a really nice shot by Erne,” Mathieu Joseph said after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Winnipeg. “It was a hard shot to get out there.”
Joseph set up the shot. He and Erne had a two-on-one with another Jet gaining quickly. Joseph slid the puck over and Erne got the one-timer off at the bottom of the faceoff circle to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead at the time.
The goal was a good one, but it was really the cherry on top of some great hockey. He has done everything but score recently, and the fourth line isn’t expected to score.
In Erne’s context, recently could really mean this season. The 23-year-old playing his first full NHL season has made an impact on this team overall. Coach Jon Cooper credited Erne gaining familiarity with the league.
“You got to learn this league, you have to learn who you’re playing against,” Cooper said. “And when you’re not getting 20 minutes of ice time a night, it’s a little bit longer, but you find your way. Tonight they were counting on all of those guys. Other than putting the puck in the net they were a physical presence and they took penalties but they drew penalties.
Erne has been good at drawing penalties this year. He’s tied for fourth with 40 penalty minutes, but has also drawn penalties at crucial moments late in games.
He takes pride in that physical role. He has 117 hits on the season, which comes out to more than two hits a game, more than anyone on the Lightning made last year.
“I don’t think teams necessarily look at us as heavy team,” Erne said. “I don’t think they’re always expecting it so when we come out like that and kind of hit them right off the bat. We can make them take a step back and it opens stuff up for our skill guys.”
Callahan previously commented on how effectively Erne throws around his 6-foot-1, 214-pound frame
“Obviously I think playing on that kind of role you got to be physical,” Callahan said. “He’s a big body obviously and you can see when he throws his body how effective he is, just creates some space and some room for himself and his teammates.”
On Tuesday, Erne also assisted Cedric Paquette’s goal for his fourth multi-point game of the season. His biggest game was the last time he scored, his first career multi-goal game with two goals and an assist in the Dec. 29 win over Montreal.
The assist on Tuesday came from he and Joseph battling for the puck along the boards, they knocked it loose and Joseph tipped it up to Paquette, who rounded out the fourth-line scoring.
“They played well,” Nikita Kucherov said of the fourth line. “They put the puck behind the D and they forecheck hard and spend a lot of time in the offensive zone by doing this.”