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‘It was brutal’: Lightning’s Alex Killorn on Stanley Cup final injury

An “unnecessary surgery” was the only chance he had of returning during the series against the Canadiens.
Lightning wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrates his goal during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup semifinals in June at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Lightning wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrates his goal during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup semifinals in June at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 20, 2021|Updated Jul. 20, 2021

When Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman lost his stick in the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, forward Alex Killorn knew he had to hand off his own to put his team in a better position to defend its net.

But the absence of his stick left Killorn in a more vulnerable position, and there was nothing he could do to defend himself against Jeff Petry’s blast from the right point, which Killorn blocked with his left leg.

He knew something wasn’t right immediately afterward.

“Whenever you get a shot off the foot, it always hurts, it never feels good,” Killorn said on recent podcast with Spittin’ Chiclets. “So I keep playing and I’m like, no, it doesn’t feel great.”

Killorn got a shot of Toradol — an anti-inflammatory drug that decreases swelling and is used to moderate pain — after the period but couldn’t take a shift in the third.

X-rays later showed a cracked fibula. General manager Julien BriseBois said last week Killorn’s leg was broken in two distinct pieces.

Killorn said he had two surgeons visit him at his home the day after Game 1. They didn’t want to perform surgery but said inserting a rod into the leg was the only chance he’d have of returning to play in the series.

That night, Killorn was sure he wasn’t going to go through with it. But then he had thoughts of the series going to a Game 7 and knew he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t give himself at least a chance to play.

Killorn missed the flight to Montreal for Game 3 due to surgery that morning and the rehab that followed. He wasn’t able to meet the team until the morning skate before Game 4.

“It was an unnecessary surgery, but it needed to be done to play,” Killorn said. “So I could have been good in five or six weeks just resting it.

“If Seattle’s listening,” said Killorn, who is among the players available to the Kraken in Wednesday night’s expansion draft, “my fibula’s broken.”

Killorn was medically cleared to play once the rod was inserted in his fibula. He skated the morning of Game 4 and took pregame warmups but was unable to play in the game. He called trying to get back so quickly a “stupid” decision but said he wanted to be on the ice in case the team clinched the Cup that night.

The only way Killorn could skate was if they numbed his leg, so he said it felt “really good” in the morning, leading him to think there was a chance. But when he got the shot of Toradol prior to the game, there was too much fluid from all of the numbing agent, causing more swelling.

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“It was tough for me, because I felt like I was playing some of the best hockey of my life,” Killorn said. “And then, in the Stanley Cup final against my hometown team with a lot of people watching, yeah it was brutal.”

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.

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