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Yanni Gourde’s speed put the Lightning in the fast lane this season

The veteran continues to provide a spark for Tampa Bay
Lightning center Yanni Gourde sparked Tampa Bay's play with his speed and work ethic. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
Lightning center Yanni Gourde sparked Tampa Bay's play with his speed and work ethic. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Published May 5, 2019
Updated May 5, 2019

This is the second in a series this month looking at each player on the Lightning’s roster.

TAMPA — He didn’t have to race down the ice and chase after the puck like it was the last shot he would ever take. It was already heading that way without his help.

He didn’t have to flash his speed in the final seconds of a game that the Lightning had decisively handled.

But right winger Yanni Gourde decided to race the clock.

As the puck sailed towards an empty net with less than 10 seconds against the Capitals, it might have slowed to a crawl as the horn sounded. Gourde wasn’t having it. He bolted from the other side of the ice, shot past Washington’s John Carlson and taking long stride after long stride, reached the puck and drilled it into the back of the net with a fraction of time remaining in the game.

The goal put an exclamation point on Tampa Bay’s 6-3 victory over the Caps on March 16 and showed once again why Gourde’s teammates call him “greyhound.”

The fourth-year veteran’s speed and play-making abilities sparked the third and fourth lines for Tampa Bay this season and contributed in pivotal points throughout the season.

Related: Lightning a day in May: Injury accentuates Victor Hedman's value to Tampa Bay

Gourde’s steady hand even proved valuable when necessity moved him up to the top two lines. Like teammate J.T. Miller, he was the kind of player that found a way to play and produce well on any line, and the positive results often came from the extra time he put in during practice.

After team workouts, Gourde often stood just outside the crease working on tipping the puck into the net after practices with Braydon Coburn as his teammates filed back into the locker room. Coburn took shots from the right and left sides of the blueline and Gourde would try to tap them in the net with the toe of his stick.

The work paid off. Gourde used the same technique to score against other teams. A shot from the Lightning’s offensive zone blueline from Mikhail Sergachev set Gourde up perfectly as he stood just outside of the center of the goal crease in the Lightning’s first game of the playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The tip gave Tampa Bay a three-goal lead with about two minutes left in the first period. A highlight in a series that featured a string of lowlights for Tampa Bay.

Related: Jeff Vinik shares Lightning fans disappointment in the team's postseason collapse

There’s little doubt that the 5-foot-9 winger is one of the fastest players on Tampa Bay’s roster. The Lightning forward’s overall production, down from last year’s career-high 64 points, still proved crucial for a historic 62-win season. Gourde, 27, will likely return for the 2019-20 season with a scheduled raise, the same speed and the same work ethic.

When it comes to Gourde: nothing slows him down.


Gourde’s season in review:

High: Gourde’s first and only multi-goal game of the season, which helped Tampa Bay notch its 60th win of the year in a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Low: Gourde’s illegal check to Carolina’s Jordan Staal on March 21, which forced the Lightning forward to serve a two-game suspension, missing games against St. Louis and Boston. Gourde logged a career-high of 66 penalty minutes this season, 16 more than he had last year.

By the numbers:

5 game-winning goals, the same number he notched last season

296 shots on goal, a career-high by 160

48 points, combined for 22 goals and 26 assists

15:50 average time on ice

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow her @faiello_mari.


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ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrate after he beats Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill (31) to score the first goal of the game during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning forward has hovered just below 20 goals for years and finally reached the mark Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leads the celebration as players contratulate right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the game 3-3 in the final moments during third period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Tampa. The Lightning went on to win 4 to 3 in the shootout.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay went from sixth place in the Atlantic Division to second behind a 10-game win streak.
  3. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
  5. Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to control the puck the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Jan Rutta (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay falls off a recent trend of strong defense and lets Minnesota dictate the game.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench as his team plays against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Even if the play is erased by an earlier offsides, the penalty still must be served.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) in the tunnel before heading out to the ice for warms ups before taking on the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Playing in Minnesota is special for McDonagh, who grew up 12 miles from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  8. Canada's Geneviève Lacasse (31) blocks a shot by United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) [MICHAEL DWYER  |  AP]
    Teams representing the United States and Canada will play a 3-on-3 scrimmage as part of the festivities in St. Louis next week.
  9. TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 14: (Editor's Note: Image was digitally altered)  The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings fathers, brothers and mentors during the Kings' annual team trip at Amalie Arena on January 14, 2020 in Tampa. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images) [CASEY BROOKE LAWSON  |  NHLI via Getty Images]
    The Kings are the latest team to bring their annual trip to Tampa. The Capitals and Senators have also done so this year.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Also, Kings’ Jonathan Quick takes a Steven Stamkos one-timer up high.
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