TAMPA — A thorn in the Lightning’s side the past two Stanley Cup finals now is on their side.
Veteran power forward Corey Perry, who is nearing 400 career goals, signed a two-year, $2 million free agent deal with Tampa Bay on Thursday.
“We are excited to add Corey, who brings with him a wealth of big-game experience to the Lightning,” general manager Julie BriseBois said in a team statement. “He will be an excellent addition to the lineup, and we are thrilled to add another high-character player to our group who can contribute to the organization’s overall depth.”
Perry played in the Stanley Cup final with Dallas in 2020 and Montreal last season, losing to Tampa Bay on both occasions. He scored four goals between the two series, three of them in the ‘20 final.
Perry, 36, won the Cup in 2007 with the Ducks, the franchise with which he accumulated most of his 386 career goals and 818 points from 2005-19. He was awarded the Hart and Rocket Richard trophies for the 2010-11 season, when he set career highs for goals (50) and points (98).
After 14 seasons in Anaheim, where he was teammates with Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon for five seasons (2011-16), Perry signed with Dallas as a free agent before the 2020 season. He moved on to Montreal in free agency the next year.
Last season with the Canadiens, Perry had nine goals and 12 assists during the 56-game regular season, then added four goals and six assists in the playoffs.
A pest who earned the nickname “the Worm” for his habit of getting under the skin of opposing players, Perry has had his fair share of run-ins with the Lightning.
During Game 2 of the 2021 Cup final, Perry tugged on forward Nikita Kucherov’s glove and tried to take his stick away from him after colliding with the Tampa Bay star along the sideboards. After a stoppage in play moments later in front of the Lightning net, a fed-up Kucherov cross-checked Perry in the back.
In Game 4, Perry flattened goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy while crashing the net in pursuit of a rebound, earning a jab to the head from Vasilevskiy as he knelt in the crease after the play.
Perry’s aggressiveness in front of the net paid off in a big way in Game 5 of the 2020 final. He scored in double overtime to give Dallas a 3-2 win and delay Tampa Bay’s Cup celebration another game.
Before the start of the 2021 final, Perry said he was looking forward to getting a second shot at beating the Lightning, whom he called “a heck of a team.”
“You can start with their goalie. He’s a world-class goalie,” Perry said. “And then (they) probably have one of the top defensemen in the league in (Victor) Hedman, and the list goes on: Kucherov, (Steven) Stamkos. You know, you can talk about them all day long.”
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