Killer is the death of the Red Wings’ season

by Gary Shelton on April 22, 2016 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Killorn celebrates scoring the game-winning goal./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Killorn (17) celebrates scoring the game-winning goal./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Thursday, 6 a.m.

He was watching the pregame show, because hours before he wins a game, what else is a guy supposed to do.

He saw the images, and he listened to the rhetoric. Yeah, the announcers were saying: if you are going to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, you have to stop Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson.

And Alex Killorn grinned.

“I didn't see my name up there,” he laughed after the Lightning's 1-0 victory over Detroit ended the Red Wings' season. “I mean, I thought since I was their linemate...I've got the Harvard thing. That's all anyone talks about.”

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Bishop stood tall for the Lightning in closeout victory./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Bishop stood tall for the Lightning in closeout victory./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Someone should have been trying to stop Killorn, a guy with a knack for scoring big goals in the playoffs. Consider Thursday night, when he crashed the net with 1:43 to play and scored the game's only goal.

Why? Because that's what he does.

What Ben Bishop does, on the other hand, is steal a game from the Red Wings. You have never seen a finer example of one man winning a game than Thursday night when Bishop stopped 34 shots, some of them when his defense abandoned him. In the second period alone, Detroit had four breakaways. So pity the Red Wings, who were done in by a Killer and a thief.

If Killorn didn't do this so often, it would surprise us. Oh, he's pretty good for a power forward. But come the playoffs, he's Big Game Killorn.

There are regular-season players in the NHL, players that are very good in October and not so much in the middle of April. And there are guys who use the added intensity of a game as extra fuel. This was Killorn's 13th goal of the last three post-seasons after 46 goals in 234 games.

“I think most guys would rather be known as playoff players than regular-season players,” Killorn said. “It's just the way it's worked out. Your intensity kind of rises. It's been going well so far.”

This is the stuff of dreams. Really. What kid on the ice doesn't dream of last-minute goals that break scoreless ties and allows a team that, really, was kind of outplayed for most of Thursday night, to win?

“I know it's cliché to say,” Killorn said “but whenever you're playing with your buddies, it's the last minute, game winning goal. It's the stuff you dream about. Being on that stage is pretty surreal.”

The Lightning defense wasn't stellar, but Hedman led the shutout./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

The Lightning defense wasn't stellar, but Hedman led the shutout./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Like Thursday night?

Killorn grinned. “Exactly.”

Right. No wonder they call him “Killer.” Ask Detroit.

“I was so happy,” Killorn said. “I didn't realize how much time was left. I didn't see it go in. (Detroit goalie Petr) Mrazek kind of got position in front of me. It trickled through him. I'd have to watch it again. Cally had a great pass, then he blocked a shot at the other end.”

As descriptions go, being a playoff beast is a good one. Here is a guy who has never scored more than 17 goals in a season who grows taller in the playoffs. He scored the winner in Game 7 against the Rangers. He scored the go-ahead goal in Game Six against Detroit. He scored the game winner in the first game this year.

“We've some guys on a number of occasions who have risen above everyone,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Johnson, Hedman, Kooch. Killorn is not talked about as much. But we scored another big third period goal, and Killorn scores it. He seems to rise to the occasion when the playoffs come and that's really good for us.”

Okay, okay. It is unlikely that Killorn will ever lead this team in scoring. But judge him in the third period, when the game is on the line, when the playoffs are in the air. Judge him when other players are reluctant to wade into the net traffic. Judge him when it counts the most.

That's when he's a killer.

Because he is, the Lightning still lives.

Ondrej Palat flies through the air in Lightning victory./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Ondrej Palat flies through the air in Lightning victory./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil April 22, 2016 at 8:22 am

Killorn had the position, but I thought the offensive play of the game was the assist from Cally.

Cecil

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Gary Shelton April 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Cally made the play, no doubt. But without Killorn, the scoreboard doesn’t change.

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