Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Killorn-Stamkos-Callahan line hits hot streak for Lightning

TAMPA — They might not have a flashy nickname like the Triplets.

But the Lightning line of Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan has some pretty strong chemistry, too, having played a large chunk of last season together.

And since the trio was reunited a week ago, it has clicked in a big way, combining for 13 points in past four games for a club riding a three-game winning streak into tonight's game against the Coyotes at Amalie Arena. And Tampa Bay (33-22-4) might lean on that line even more heavily depending on how long team points leader Nikita Kucherov, a member of the Triplets line, is out with a lower-body injury.

"We've had some chemistry in the past, hopefully we can keep it rolling," Stamkos said. "We feel like we're playing the full 200-foot game and getting rewarded."

The line was put back together Tuesday against San Jose, partly because Vladislav Namestnikov, who had been centering Stamkos' line, suffered an upper-body injury Feb. 14 against St. Louis. Stamkos moved back to his natural and preferred position of center, and he has responded with three goals and an assist in the past four. He now leads the team with 25 goals; it's also likely not a coincidence the boost in production came after general manager Steve Yzerman announced Feb. 15 that the captain will not be traded at Monday's deadline. The line reunion also seemed to have provided a spark for Killorn and Callahan, who had struggled with lengthy scoring droughts this season.

"When they threw us back together, we kind of knew where each other are and how we play," Callahan said. "It seemed to click right away."

Callahan snapped an 18-game goal drought against San Jose, and that has lifted a weight off his shoulders. He has tallied three goals in the past four games, including two in Sunday's 4-2 win against Carolina.

"The confidence is definitely there again," said Callahan, who has eight goals on the season. "It's funny how that works sometimes, you get one in the back of the net and it starts rolling. I haven't changed the way I've played, or anything like that, it's just a matter of capitalizing on some opportunities I have, so just keep it going."

Killorn, with one goal and three assists in his past four games, might have been one of the team's best forwards the past couple of weeks, using his size (6 feet 2, 198 pounds) to drive the net and control possession.

That has been the key for the entire line during this stretch. Stamkos' 300th career goal Saturday against Pittsburgh came as he pounced on a loose puck near the right post. Callahan's first goal Sunday was a blast from the right circle. And Stamkos' winning power-play goal Sunday was a result of him slashing into the slot, where Tyler Johnson found him.

"They're working hard, that's the biggest thing," coach Jon Cooper said. "They're protecting pucks, they're getting zone time down there, and they're going to the net. It's shooting pucks, it's attacking the net and that's what those guys are doing.

"When those guys are doing that, it's working for us."

ROSTER MOVE: The Lightning recalled defenseman Matt Taormina and reassigned defenseman Slater Koekkoek to AHL Syracuse.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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