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Drouin's scoring picks up at key time for banged-up Lightning

Jonathan Drouin has eight points in the Lightning’s past seven games, including a highlight-reel goal against the Canucks.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Jonathan Drouin has eight points in the Lightning’s past seven games, including a highlight-reel goal against the Canucks.

EDMONTON — In Jonathan Drouin's highlight-reel goal Saturday night, he had nearly everyone at Rogers Place fooled.

Including his teammates.

On a late second-period power play, Drouin, 21, collected the puck at the top of the right circle. He faked a shot on Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson, who bent down to block without a stick. Drouin slipped into the slot and sniped a shot through traffic to tie the score at 1. It helped the Lightning salvage a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton.

"A pretty slick play," center Tyler Johnson said. "He faked me out, too. I thought he shot it before. He's an outstanding player with a tremendous amount of skill. When he's going, he's fun to watch."

Drouin is rolling, with eight points in his past seven games. The touted wing has been one of the few bright spots during a brutal stretch for the Lightning, which has lost nine of its past 11 (2-7-2) and has just six points in the past 25 days.

The Lightning has issues all over. The penalty kill has cost it, giving up multiple goals in three of the past four games, including two Saturday.

"Enough is enough here," goalie Ben Bishop said. "We've got to step up as players. It's starting to get almost embarrassing."

Injuries haven't helped. Tampa Bay has been playing without four of its top-nine forwards: Steven Stamkos (knee surgery), Nikita Kucherov (lower body), Ondrej Palat (upper body) and Ryan Callahan (lower body). On Saturday, Cedric Paquette (upper body) also was out.

But one constant has been Drouin, who has elevated his game at the right time. He has four goals, four assists and 18 shots in the past seven games, and is plus-5 in that stretch. Drouin looks a lot like he did in the playoffs last season, when he helped lift the Lightning to the Eastern Conference final without Stamkos, who was out because of a blood clot. Drouin's seven goals this season are a career high.

"When he's skating, he's a dynamic, dynamic player," coach Jon Cooper said. "You see some of the things he can do with the puck."

Drouin got off to a slow start production-wise, with three goals in his first 17 games. But it wasn't for lack of chances. Drouin ranked third on the team in shots on goal (70). The only difference now is that Drouin is playing with a little more confidence.

"I'm playing the same way," Drouin said. "Points go in sometimes; sometimes they don't. In the Calgary game (Wednesday), I was playing really well and left there with zero."

Drouin has recently clicked with linemates Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula, their play a big reason Tampa Bay picked up three of six possible points on the three-game trip through Western Canada that ended Saturday. The trio combined for nine points in the three games.

"(Drouin has) created so much," Boyle said. "The things he can do with the puck. He's telling me what to do, where to go. I'm trying to learn from him. He's just so skilled, it's fun to play with him."

The Lightning trailed 1-0 late in the second period Saturday. It was about 20 minutes away from leaving another game empty-handed. That's when Drouin scored on his world-class shot. "That's what that kid can do," Cooper said.

Drouin added another beauty in the shootout to keep Tampa Bay alive before Oilers superstar Connor McDavid sealed the Oilers' win.

McDavid, 19, the league's leading scorer, got an up-close look at Drouin when they were teammates on Team North America during September's World Cup of Hockey.

"He plays so fast and has the puck on a string," McDavid said. "He's got all the tools to be an unbelievable player."

Saturday's game

Oilers 0 1 1 0 3
Lightning 0 1 1 0 2
Oilers win shootout 2-1

FirstNone. PenaltiesConacher, TB, (high sticking), 4:04; Brown, TB, (boarding), 10:31; Nugent-Hopkins, EDM, (hooking), 15:05.

Second1, EDM, Lucic 9 (Sekera, Draisaitl), 3:58 (pp). 2, TB, Drouin 7 (Point, Hedman), 18:59 (pp). PenaltiesDraisaitl, EDM, (high sticking), 1:30; Namestnikov, TB, (hooking), 2:45; Killorn, TB, (roughing), 5:16; Hendricks, EDM, (cross checking), 8:04; Beck, EDM, (slashing), 17:31.

Third3, TB, Johnson 9 (Nesterov, Conacher), 2:35. 4, EDM, Draisaitl 14 (Letestu, Sekera), 7:03 (pp). PenaltiesKoekkoek, TB, (hooking), 6:56.

OTNone. PenaltiesPoint, TB, (holding), 4:50.

SOTB 1 (Point NG, Drouin G, Boyle NG), EDM 2 (Letestu G, Draisaitl NG, McDavid G). SOG TB 5-13-14-1—33. EDM 11-13-7-1—32. PP oppsTB 1 of 4; EDM 2 of 6. GoaliesTB, Bishop 9-10-2 (32 shots-30 saves). EDM, Talbot 15-10-4 (33-31).

Drouin's scoring picks up at key time for banged-up Lightning 12/18/16 [Last modified: Sunday, December 18, 2016 8:35pm]
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