A trio of Tampa Bay Lightning players was selected to take part in the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson earned a spot in Sunday’s All-Star Game – Stamkos’ third and Johnson’s first – and Jonathan Drouin was one of six rookies picked to participate in the Skills Competition.
Tyler Johnson was held out of the weekend’s festivities with a lower-body injury, so only Stamkos skated in the All-Star Game, his team (Foligno) getting beat 17-12 by Team Toews.
So how did the Lightning fare against the world’s best? Here are three things we learned from an entertaining weekend of hockey.
Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos scored twice in Sunday’s All-Star Game to move within one of former Bolts standout Martin St. Louis for the most career Lightning goals all-time in the NHL showcase.
Stamkos scored his first goal 2:27 into the second period. Number 91 picked up a loose puck at his own blue line and reached speeds of 21 miles per hour to outrace the pack to the opposite goal before lifting a shot top shelf stick side over Chicago’s Corey Crawford.
Later in the second, Stamkos again carried the puck from his own zone down the left wing, held off Tyler Seguin with his right hand while keeping the puck on his stick with the left as he approached the target and shoved a shot past Crawford at the far post.
Stamkos finished with two goals on six shots and an assist.
Stamkos becomes the second Tampa Bay Lightning player to score twice in a single All-Star Game. St. Louis also accomplished the feat in 2009.
Stamkos and St. Louis remain the only two Tampa Bay players to score in the All-Star Game.
2. THERE WILL BE MORE ALL-STAR GAMES FOR TYLER JOHNSON
Having to sit out All-Star weekend while nursing a lower-body injury certainly had to be frustrating for Lightning center Tyler Johnson.
The 24-year-old was selected for his first All-Star Game after leading the Lightning in scoring (48 points – 17 goals, 31 assists entering Sunday) through the first half of the season.
But, Johnson missed the Bolts’ loss in Boston 12 days prior to the All-Star Game with a lower-body injury and was clearly suffering through the lingering effects of the ailment in the three games that followed. Johnson said prior to the All-Star Game that if he was forced to choose between missing the annual NHL showcase or a regular-season game, he would pick the All-Star Game.
Johnson made the right choice sitting out.
The Lightning will need a healthy Johnson during the stretch run to secure a postseason berth and a higher seed for home-ice advantage. The five days off should help ensure Johnson is as close to 100 percent as possible for the Lightning post-All-Star break.
To be sure, Johnson would have liked to participate on Sunday. Considering Johnson made the All-Star Game in just his second full season in the league, however, the Spokane, Wash., native will likely have plenty more opportunities in the future to play in the game.
Johnson is a team-first guy rather than a player who focuses on individual awards and accolades, a mentality further emphasized by his decision not to suit up during All-Star Weekend.
3. JONATHAN DROUIN IS PRETTY FAST (but you knew that already)
Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin wasn’t content with merely winning the Fastest Skater event during Saturday’s All-Star Skills Competition.
The 19-year-old put up one of the best times ever in the event.
Drouin raced to the finish line during his lone attempt in 13.103, the fastest winning time in the history of the Fastest Skater competition. Drouin was pushed the whole way by Mike Hoffman and barely edged the Ottawa left winger, who finished with an impressive time of his own at 13.163
Drouin and Hoffman finished one, two.
Drouin also went 1-for-2 against Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo in the Shootout competition.
For the hockey public unaware of Drouin’s panache, the Lightning forward certainly gave spectators a small dose of what Tampa Bay fans have known for quite some time: Drouin is one of the most skilled youngsters in the game.
With the bright lights shining and the game’s biggest stars watching, Drouin delivered during his short amount of time on the ice.
Here’s guessing Drouin will have many more opportunities to impress at future All-Star Games.