1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

It’s what the Lightning aren’t doing that counts

Alex Killorn’s decision to just skate away Thursday night is part of a positive trend in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) celebrates his second goal of the game during the second period of Tampa Bay's 9-3 victory over the New York Rangers Thursday at Amalie Arena. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) celebrates his second goal of the game during the second period of Tampa Bay's 9-3 victory over the New York Rangers Thursday at Amalie Arena. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 15

TAMPA — Sometimes, it’s more about what you don’t do. Alex Killorn didn’t do anything and skated away.

He could have taken a penalty Thursday night. Instead, the Lightning ended up with a five-on-three. Killorn scored on the first penalty, then Nikita Kucherov did on the second.

Not doing anything put the Lightning in an entirely different position in their 9-3 victory over the New York Rangers.

Tony DeAngelo had slashed Killorn behind the net and then tried to get him to engage in a shoving match. Instead, Killorn quickly skated away.

“I heard the ref give DeAngelo a penalty,” Killorn said. “Once I heard that, I tried to get out of there as quickly as possible. There’s no need to be a tough guy when you know you have a five-on-three.”

Taking too many penalties had been one of the Lightning’s biggest issues early in the season. That play is just one example of a disciplined approach that has helped them stay out of the box and kill the penalties they have taken the last few games.

Tampa Bay granted opponents four or more power plays in eight of the first 12 games. The team also paired that with one of the league’s worst penalty kills.

More recently, the Lightning went three games allowing no more than two power plays. They did give up four on Thursday, but the flow of that game was odd with the 12 total goals. Additionally, they managed to kill all of the penalties off.

The Lightning hasn’t given up a power-play goal in four games this month.

“When you’re only killing off one or two a game,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s a lot easier to kill them off than when you take six.”

There’s a little more to it than just taking fewer penalties.

Frustration had been creeping in, with it coming a bit of panic and a pull away from the system. Some of the power-play goals had been bad bounces but they came after breakdowns created opportunities. Others came from trying to rush things and making turnovers.

“We’ve done some video,” Anthony Cirelli said. “Trust the process. We had to make little adjustments here and there and now we just have to stick to the system.”

The Lightning also needed to build some confidence within its penalty kill unit. That enables them to take a moment and hold off the panic. Trusting their own process also keeps players from freelancing and getting out of position.

“It’s a lot of momentum,” Killorn said. “Once you kill one, once you score one on the power play, a lot of things start feeling better.”

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.


  1. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Bring a new, unwrapped toy to either (or both!) of the next two games
  2. Boston's David Pastrnak, left, and Washington's Alex Ovechkin were the NHL's top two goal-scorers through Tuesday's games. Both are coming to Tampa this week to face the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
    The Lightning face the NHL’s top two teams Thursday and Saturday
  3. The Lightning's Anthony Cirelli (71) and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy, right, watch the puck as the Panthers' Noel Acciari (55) defends during the second period on Tuesday in Sunrise. [LUIS M. ALVAREZ  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay doesn’t make costly mistakes and pays attention to details on defense, just like the team has been talking about.
  4. In this file photo, Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on the bench with his team during a game against the Detroit Red Wings.
    Dallas fired coach Jim Montgomery under odd circumstances and promoted Rick Bowness.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) on the ice against the San Jose Sharks during second period action at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The event will take place Feb. 7 and will benefit Moffitt Cancer Center
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney (35) gets beat on a short-handed breakaway goal by New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey (12) during second-period action. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay allows another flurry of goals and can’t overcome the deficit in a 5-1 loss.
  7. A flurry of New York goals leaves Tampa Bay behind.
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning Mitchell Stephens (67), making his NHL debut, worse to control the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tyler Johnson is out against the Islanders and likely to miss the Lightning’s ‘next couple games’
  9. The giant pipes reflect shades of blue as the glowing letters spelling Tampa Bay Lightning silhouette organist Krystof Srebrakowski and the pipe organ high above the rink. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Diana C. Nearhos | Carter Verhaeghe deserves more playing time. Hockey needs to address its culture issues seriously.
  10. DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) beats Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) to score shorthanded making the score 3 to 1 during third period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (12/06/18).  [SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay plays four games in six nights against the Islanders, Panthers, Bruins and Capitals ... oh my