Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Alex Killorn apologizes to Paul Ranger for hit

TORONTO — Alex Killorn reached out to Paul Ranger as soon as he could to apologize.

Ranger, a Maple Leafs defenseman, was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher wearing a head and neck restraint with 4.1 seconds left in the first period of Wednesday night's game after Killorn, a Lightning left wing, hit him from behind into the end boards at the Air Canada Centre.

Ranger was taken as a precaution to a hospital, where the Leafs reported he was "stable, conscious and alert." Ranger played for Tampa Bay from 2005-10, and at least one of his former teammates had his phone number. Killorn said he got Ranger's voice mail.

"I'm going in to hit him, and he makes a quick turn," Killorn said. "I'm already committed at that point. I'm trying to think of what else I could have done … to prevent that. It's just a tough, quick, bang-bang play."

Killorn, 24, was given a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct that carries an automatic $200 league fine and a likely appointment with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.

"That's a tough one," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after Tampa Bay's 5-3 win. "I don't think there was any intent on (Killorn's) part to do that. That's not the way he plays."

As medical staff, including Lightning head trainer Tommy Mulligan, worked on Ranger — and former Lightning teammates Nate Thompson, Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell, and former Toronto teammate Mike Kostka watched — the decision was made to play the final 4.1 seconds of the first period before the start of the second.

Tampa Bay C Valtteri Filppula won the faceoff in the Lightning zone. Tampa Bay also got a break when a tripping penalty on Joffrey Lupul negated two minutes of the final 2:34 of Killorn's penalty.

"A turning point in the game when we killed that off," Cooper said of preserving a 3-2 lead.

Said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle of Ranger: "You try to use it as motivation for the players and get (the win) for him, and we fell short."

Killorn, who had only 54 penalty minutes in 106 career games entering Wednesday, said he is "happy (Ranger) is okay," and noted there has been "nothing dirty" in his career.

Still, captain Steven Stamkos said, "Those are the plays we're trying to get rid of. 'Killer' didn't mean to do it, but it's a scary situation. We just hope that 'Range' is okay and he's doing all right."

UP AND COMING: There is talk the Lightning might sign Cody Kunyk, 23, a forward out of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior, who last summer attended Tampa Bay's prospect camp, had 11 goals and 28 points in 37 games.

ODDS AND ENDS: Filppula has two goals, eight assists in a six-game points streak. … C Tyler Johnson's 22 goals are one off Stamkos' team rookie record. … LW Ryan Malone's two assists gave him 200 Lightning points. … LW Ondrej Palat's five-game points streak ended. … Forwards Nikita Kucherov and Richard Panik and defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were scratched.

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