Lightning wing Alex Killorn finally found himself on the receiving end of some hockey karma Sunday.
Killorn, mired in a 12-game scoring drought, snapped the streak in a unique way, getting a goal without putting the puck in the net. With just more than a minute left in Sunday's 3-0 victory over the Red Wings, Killorn carried the puck into the Detroit zone and shot at the empty goal. He was hooked by a Red Wing and fell as his shot sailed wide of the left post. The puck bounced back in front to Teddy Purcell, who put it in.
But Killorn was credited with the tally due to Rule 25.1, which states if the opposing goalie is pulled, and a player possesses the puck in the neutral zone with no defender between him and the net, he's awarded a goal if an opposing player commits a penalty to prevent him from scoring
"That was a big joke on the bench actually, he doesn't even need to shoot them now to go into the net," coach Jon Cooper quipped. "We had good laughs about that on the bench. … He deserved that, he made a great play on the wall. Teddy Purcell puts it in the open net and he was the first guy back saying, 'I hope Killer gets that goal.' "
Killorn, 24, figured if the Wings took a bad enough penalty, he'd get a goal, but when he missed the net, he wasn't sure. He'll gladly take his first goal since Nov. 16, hoping it's a sign of good things to come for tonight's game at the Islanders.
"As the games keep going by, when you keep not scoring, as much as you try to stay focused, it kind of wears on you a little bit," Killorn said. "I've hit like three or four posts in the last five games, so to get one like that boosts your confidence even though I didn't score."
It's not like the 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward wasn't playing well during his scoring slump. Cooper pointed out Killorn was probably getting the "best chances on our team" recently.
"It's the ultimate cliche of the game of inches," Cooper said. "I could never fault a guy, he's trying as hard as he can, he's putting them in position to score. But these guys have pride, they start getting these chances they're getting and they don't go in for them, it starts to eat away at them because they're not seeing the results. But … if you keep getting these chances, eventually they'll go in."
Killorn, who has seven goals, 10 assists and is plus-4, has transitioned well from center to wing, where he skates alongside Teddy Purcell and Valteri Filppula. Cooper said Killorn can play center, where players have more defensive responsibility, but he didn't have "much left in the tank" for offense.
"He's a big forward, winger that is in on the forecheck and hard to play against," Cooper said. "But when you do that at one end of the ice, it's really hard to do it at the other end of the ice 200 feet away. There's a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. He can play center, he did an unreal job for us, but he's better for us at the wing."
Cooper credited Killorn for working so well along the boards in the defensive zone, getting the puck free to set up the rush that led to his eventual goal. Center Tyler Johnson, who also scored in the third period — his second in the past eight games — thought it was a fitting result for both.
"I was joking around with him before the third period, I said we might have go to church or something because both of us were really snake-bitten," Johnson said. "Then in the third period we both end up scoring. Maybe that's a sign? Who knows?"
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TBTimes_JSmith.