TAMPA — Before wing Alex Killorn made his Stanley Cup final debut, veteran wing Brenden Morrow had a simple message for the 25-year-old: Go out and dominate.
Killorn accomplished that early with a no-look deflection that was one of the most impressive plays of the season and the offensive highlight of Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks.
"Sick," defenseman Victor Hedman said.
The play happened quickly, moments after Killorn missed a shot wide that coach Jon Cooper said he probably should have had. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford saved one of Killorn's team-high five shots moments later.
Center Valtteri Filppula started the action 41/2 minutes in by fishing a puck out from the corner and passing it to defenseman Anton Stralman.
"There was pretty heavy pressure on me there when I got the puck," Stralman said. "I just threw it at the net."
And he threw it at Killorn, who was near the right circle.
The Harvard graduate batted the puck out of the air behind him, with his back turned to the goal. The puck tumbled and skipped past the glove and skate of Crawford and into the net.
"That's a big-time tip," Cooper said. "He's working for his breaks. He generated one there."
The social media accolades poured in quickly for what Stralman called a "pretty spectacular play."
USA Today called the shot "preposterous." Deadspin deemed it "brilliant." Sports Illustrated summed it up as "ridiculous." Two hours later, the no-look goal was still trending on Twitter.
Killorn's eighth goal of the playoffs was his latest big moment of a strong postseason. He scored the first goal in the Lightning's 2-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final when he backhanded a shot past Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist. He had three points in Game 2 of that series and has recorded points in five of his past seven games.
The only teammates with more postseason goals than Killorn are Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. Killorn — not Johnson or captain Steven Stamkos — entered the game averaging 20:15 of ice time, the most among Lightning forwards. Tampa Bay had been 6-0 during the playoffs when Killorn scores at least once.
"I thought it was much deserved," Cooper said. "He's had one whale of a playoffs for us. But you've got to get more than one."
Even if that one was one of the top plays of the year.
Contact Matt Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.