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Even with negated goals, Alex Killorn came up big in Lightning’s OT win

Notes | Two of the Lightning forward’s goals were reversed but he had the primary assist on Thursday’s game-winning goal.
Left wing Alex Killorn, center,  celebrates his second-period goal against Anaheim. From left: defenseman Erik Cernak, Killorn, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and left wing Brandon Hagel.
Left wing Alex Killorn, center, celebrates his second-period goal against Anaheim. From left: defenseman Erik Cernak, Killorn, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and left wing Brandon Hagel. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Apr. 15

TAMPA — Alex Killorn’s stat line in the Lightning’s 4-3 overtime win over Anaheim certainly didn’t show the kind of game the veteran power forward had Thursday night.

Killorn tallied a goal and an assist, but the difference of a few inches could have given him a hat trick after two other goals were taken off the board.

“It’s kind of tough, but getting the win, it really doesn’t matter looking back,” Killorn said.

Killorn thought he had the game winner 61 seconds into overtime after taking a stretch pass from Brayden Point near the blue line and beating Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz’s skate inside the left post.

After a lengthy video review with the situation room in New York, Killorn was ruled offsides. Killorn also had a tying goal reversed in the second period following an Anaheim challenge.

“The second one I wasn’t sure,” Killorn said. “I was trying to time it and I didn’t know because I had to catch the pass.”

Killorn’s best play of the game was his assist on Anthony Cirelli’s winning goal in overtime.

Killorn charged the net and recovered his own missed shot off the side of the net, took the puck around the back and circled to the slot. While drawing two Ducks players toward him and Stolarz out of the crease, Killorn found Cirelli parked by the post for an open shot.

Dialing up the intensity

Lightning left wing Nick Paul (20) works to move the puck against Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen during first-period action.
Lightning left wing Nick Paul (20) works to move the puck against Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen during first-period action. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Throughout this season, the Lightning have struggled to put together a full 60 minutes of hockey. They’ve been done in by slow starts and tough finishes, but Thursday, it was how they were able to find offense in the final minutes of regulation that ultimately led them to two points.

Nikita Kucherov’s game-tying extra-attacker goal with 12.3 seconds left in the third was the biggest shot of the night because it sent the game to overtime, but the Lightning orchestrated a surge through most of regulation’s final 12 minutes

The Lightning actually had just one shot on goal through the first 7:41 of the third before Victor Hedman drew a hooking penalty on Troy Terry. The Lightning power play didn’t score — Tampa Bay is 0-for-13 on the man advantage over the past four games — but set up a better net front presence and created opportunities.

“Even though it didn’t score, it gave us life,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It had chances, which I think led into the 6-on-5.”

The Lightning upped their intensity. They skated quickly, were strong on the forecheck, were making crisp passes, were quick to the puck and raised the tempo of the game in the Ducks zone. They had six shots on goal — and 10 shot attempts — in the final 12 minutes before Kucherov’s goal tied it.

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“I thought there was a lot of momentum built up, especially those last eight minutes of the third,” Cooper said. “Just that belief that you can win any game, and I saw glimpses of that. ... It was how they did it in the end and I’m so proud of the guys.”

Lightning extend Elliott

Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott (1) returns to the ice after a stoppage in play against the Ducks during second-period action Thursday.
Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott (1) returns to the ice after a stoppage in play against the Ducks during second-period action Thursday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Goaltender Brian Elliott has done a superb job in his first season as Andrei Vasilevskiy’s backup, and on Friday the Lightning signed the 37-year-old to an extension that will keep him with the team through the 2022-23 season.

Elliott, who is 9-3-3 in 16 games, will make $900,000 in 2022-23, which is equal to this season’s salary.

“He has come as advertised,” Cooper said Tuesday. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. And the backup goalie, when you’re playing 20 games a year and it’s sporadic in stops and starts, are you giving us a chance to win? And that’s what he’s done all year.”

Elliott would have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He signed with the Lightning in the offseason for the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, choosing Tampa Bay over other offers that would have given him more playing time.

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