TAMPA — When forward Alex Killorn went down with a second upper-body injury of the season, he had been playing some of the best hockey of his young career.
Since his return Nov. 13 against the Sharks, Killorn has been playing even better. The 25-year-old enters tonight's game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with points in a career-high seven consecutive games and two winning goals in the past three contests.
Killorn said some of his recent success comes from details he learned in the eight games he watched while recovering.
"You get a different perspective when you're watching it," Killorn said. "Just seeing that helped."
In Killorn's first eight games of the season, he recorded two goals, four points and an even plus-minus. In the eight games since his return he has five goals and eight points, and is plus-4.
After Killorn's winning goal against the Wild on Nov. 22, coach Jon Cooper said Killorn had been perhaps the team's top forward since he got back in the lineup.
"He's playing the game fast," Cooper said. "You watch him, he's first on the pucks in the forecheck. He's protecting them, and he's coming out with them. He's a big body. We miss guys like that when our big bodies aren't in there. He's kind of blessed with that.
"He can skate. He's got the hands. When he's getting his nose dirty and moving his feet, he's really good."
Killorn has been able to use his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame to his advantage. Saturday night in a 4-1 win against the Senators, he fought for the puck at the boards and was able to poke it behind the defenders to teammate Steven Stamkos. That started a two-on-one break and the tying goal.
"He does all those little plays that kind of go unnoticed," forward Tyler Johnson said. "When he's hot, obviously it benefits us quite a bit."
With goals in five of his past six games, Killorn is on one of the best stretches of his career. He attributes some of it to maturity coming from his second full season in the league.
"I'm not young by any means," Killorn said. "But playing in the NHL is an adjustment for anyone. I think just being consistent is something I've worked on."
His consistency has allowed him to get in good scoring position. His winner against Minnesota came when his skate knocked in a shot from defenseman Anton Stralman.
A week later, he had the winner against the Senators on a similar play, when he deflected in another Stralman shot.
"I think for me, a lot of (his goals) have been Johnny on the spot, right spot," Killorn said. "Things are going well. When you're going to the front of the net, good things are going to happen. I've been trying not to shy away from that."
Contact Matt Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.