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Five flashbacks: Jonathan Drouin's best plays this season (w/poll)

Jonathan Drouin (27) battles Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) to keep possession of the puck during a game Dec. 10 at Amalie Arena. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
Jonathan Drouin (27) battles Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) to keep possession of the puck during a game Dec. 10 at Amalie Arena. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Feb. 14, 2017

"Just instincts."

That's how Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin explained his dazzling shift and setup in Saturday's 4-1 win in Winnipeg. Well, there was a little more to it than that. Drouin skated circles around the Jets before setting up center Brayden Point for the tone-setting first goal. Twitter was buzzing with GIFs and videos of the one-man show, including the #nowords.

Said coach Jon Cooper: "(Drouin) can do some magical things."

Think of the top-10 highlight-reel plays from the Lightning season, and a handful may be from Drouin. The Times ranked Drouin's top plays this year. Scroll to the bottom of the story to vote for your favorite.

1. The shift (Feb. 11 at Winnipeg)

The play: This tops the list because it's the complete package. It started with the backcheck. Drouin darted behind the Winnipeg net to deliver a hit on Jets' forward Mark Scheifele, then picked up speed to strip Blake Wheeler in the left circle. Then Drouin's speed took over. He blew by two Jets, including Scheifele, before dropping a perfect pass at the back post to Brayden Point, who was positioned in the crease.

The call: "This is all about Jonathan Drouin. Drouin dipping and diving all over the place, and he's got all the Jets worried because of that speed and change of direction. Watch this cute little pass on the shortside. His timing is absolutely perfect." — Brian Engblom, Fox Sports Sun

2. The cutback (Jan. 16 at Kings)

The play: Few players could pull off this kind of cutback at that speed. Drouin, skating up to the Kings blueline, stunned Kings' Tanner Pearson with a stop and spin move. With Pearson falling to the ice, Drouin slipped into the right circle and thread a cross-zone pass through traffic to Tyler Johnson for a one-timer.

The call: "What an absolutely brilliant move. That was pretty amazing. (Kings' Tanner Pearson) couldn't put on his breaks anywhere close enough to Jonathan Drouin, who left him in the dust, and (Drouin) put it on the tape." — Engblom

3. The power play (Jan. 19)

The play: This looked like Drouin said, 'Enough, I'm just going to do it myself.' " Drouin, ticked off he couldn't keep the puck in the zone on a power play, collected himself in the neutral zone. Drouin then blew by several Sharks on the right side, including Marc-Édouard Vlasic, somehow cutting in front to beat goalie Aaron Dell.

The call: "Incredible stuff from Jonathan Drouin. He just will not be denied. It seemed like anger took over. As soon as he turned that corner, (Vlasic) can't handle the speed of Drouin. Drouin is as smooth as it gets accelerating and controlling the puck at the same time." — Engblom

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4. The surprise (Dec. 10 vs. Penguins)

The play: Drouin got his payback on the Penguins with this one. He had to leave the game earlier to get seven stitches below his left eye, the result of a high stick from Evgeni Malkin. Midway through the second, Drouin raced to collect a floating stretch pass by Jason Garrison. Drouin beat defenseman Ian Cole to the puck. And in one motion, Drouin hit the breaks, held Cole off with one arm and slipped a backhand over goalie Matt Murray with the other.

The call: "Are you kidding me? Did he put that one in? He had no racetrack left. He had to make a move while putting on the breaks right in front of the goaltender. He completely surprised (defenseman Ian) Cole. Cole looks over and goes, 'Woah, he's fast, lot faster than I thought. And he realizes, I'm in trouble.' — Engblom

5. The snipe (Feb. 7, vs Kings)

The play: Drouin went end-to-end on this one, taking advantage of open ice in a 4-on-4 situation. He carried the puck to the bottom of the left circle, somehow snapping a shot over the right shoulder of goalie Peter Budaj.

The call: "You say that's a shot a goaltender should save, but when you put it off the crossbar like that, sometimes you have to tip your hat to the shooter. Drouin with the fantastic goal." — NBCSN's Brian Boucher, a former NHL goalie

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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