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Lightning forward Killorn steps up game in playoffs

by Corey Long /

TAMPA -- After going through several lengthy scoring slumps during the regular season, Alex Killorn is hot at the right time for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Killorn had a goal and an assist in the Lightning's 6-5 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday against the New York Rangers. He has three goals and two assists in the past two games and at least a point in six of the past eight Stanley Cup Playoff games.

As the "Triplets" line of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat is justifiably earning the headlines, Killorn has found his scoring touch playing on a line with Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula.

"I think with Filppula and Stamkos we've found some chemistry, for sure," Killorn, 25, said. "We all know our role and what we bring to the line. I like to go into the corners and get the puck for those guys, and Filppula just opens up the whole ice. [Stamkos] likes to shoot it, but he wants us to shoot it as well."

Killorn's nine shots on goal led the Lightning on Wednesday. He created several good scoring chances, and only Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist kept him from a hat trick. Lundqvist robbed Killorn on a one-timer early in the first period with the Rangers ahead 1-0, and later in the period Lundqvist stopped him on a breakaway.

But a good shooter never stops shooting, and late in the second period, Killorn was rewarded for his efforts when he sent a wrist shot past Lundqvist high on the glove side to give the Lightning a 4-2 lead.

"That's when I think I'm playing my best hockey, when I'm shooting the puck as much as I can," said Killorn, who had 15 goals and 23 assists in 71 regular-season games. "I know [Stamkos] likes to shoot it as well, and when we can do that, we create a ton of opportunities."

Killorn said his sixth postseason goal came one of the few times Wednesday he was looking to pass the puck.

"I got the puck quick and I wanted to get it to [Stamkos], but if I had passed it, [Dan] Boyle would have intercepted it," Killorn said. "So I just waited it out and Stamkos got Lundqvist's lane, and I had a good look."

The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is Friday in Tampa (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Stamkos clearly has been the beneficiary of Killorn's surge. The Lightning captain scored a goal in the first period off a rebound of a Killorn shot and he has five goals and six assists in the past eight games.

Alex Killorn
Center - TBL
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 14
SOG: 43 | +/-: 6
In many ways the Killorn-Filppula-Stamkos line has been the perfect complement to the "Triplets."

"Other guys had to step up," Stamkos said. "I think with Filppula and Killorn we've got some things going. We are physically engaged and playing well defensively and we were rewarded for our efforts tonight and we want to build on that."

Stamkos credits Killorn for stepping up in the playoffs and finding ways to add to his game.

"You can tell he's playing with confidence," Stamkos said. "I mean, look at that goal he scored and the patience he had. He's playing with speed and utilizing his skill and his size, and I think that shines through in the playoffs when you have to play a heavy game."

Before Game 3, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said that Killorn and Palat have been quietly filling the scoresheet during the playoffs. But each player made sure he was noticed Wednesday.

"I keep bringing up Palat and Killorn, and those two were men among boys," Cooper said. "Actually I shouldn't say boys because everyone was a man out there; they were giants among men. They play the whole 200 feet, they play hard and they've got speed, skill and unreal hockey sense. Players like that make a lot of the other guys' jobs easier, but they both put the puck in the net, and I was glad to see that because they deserved some recognition."

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