Lightning Cup Chances Could Rely on Killorn Turnaround

The Tampa Bay Lightning have gotten contributions from up and down the lineup throughout their last three playoff runs. Different players have stepped up in big moments, and every player plays their role to a tee. After a 6-2 win in Game 3 Monday night, the Lightning have shown some life but still trail the speedy Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Despite the win, the Avalanche are giving the Lightning their toughest challenge yet.

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While the Lightning have been notoriously bad in Game 1s in these playoffs, going 1-3, the disaster that was a 7-0 loss in Game 2 made a win in Game 3 essential. Their offensive explosion on Monday was a testament to the depth the Lightning have upfront. Receiving goals from bottom-six forwards such as Patrick Maroon, Nick Paul, and Corey Perry made it clear that getting scoring from players outside of the Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat line will be critical to completing the comeback in this series.

Alex Killorn Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

To beat the Avalanche, the Lightning will certain players to take their game to a new level. Specifically, Alex Killorn needs to be better if the Lightning are to have a shot at their third straight championship. While being a huge contributor to the past two Cup-winning teams, he’s struggled offensively in these playoffs. While there are a couple of reasons for this, Killorn getting hot at the right time could be the difference.

Killorn’s Career Regular Season

What makes Killorn’s four points in 19 playoff games so frustrating is that the regular season was a career year for him with 59 points. He also scored 25 goals, just one shy of his career-best set in 2019-20. He’s struggled to generate any offense on his own, and his zero goals in these playoffs is alarming. Needless to say, there were much higher offensive expectations for him going into these playoffs.

Missing Brayden Point

The injury to Brayden Point in Game 7 of the first-round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs might play a role in Killorn’s offensive slump. He had all four of his points in the first six games of the Toronto series while playing on a line with Point, arguably the team’s best player and the offensive anchor for the second line. While Killorn has plenty of offensive ability, Point generates most of the offense for him and fellow linemate Anthony Cirelli.

Brayden Point #21, Tampa Bay Lightning
Brayden Point #21, Tampa Bay Lightning – taken on January 25, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Point injured, head coach Jon Cooper was forced to juggle the forward lines throughout the past two rounds. He mostly went with 11 forwards, and Killorn played with a mixture of players, including Cirelli, Brandon Hagel, Perry, and Paul, which might have made it hard to find a rhythm. While Killorn’s work ethic still gave the Lightning some energy, his consistency has not been there. Even when Cooper added Riley Nash to the lineup to give them 12 forwards, Killorn’s offense was nowhere to be found without Point.

Point returned to the lineup in Game 1 of the Final on Wednesday night; however, he primarily played with Ross Colton and Paul on the third line. He showed flashes of greatness while dusting off some cobwebs, and although Point was just one Lightning player who had a poor Game 2, Cooper decided to scratch Point Monday night, inserting Nash back into the lineup. It will be interesting to see moving forward if Point can get back into the lineup and contribute in the latter games of the series.

Lightning Need Killorn to Catch Fire

The Lightning will have to match the high-flying offense of the Avalanche to win the next game, meaning that there’s no better time than now for Killorn to catch fire. He did a good job with Cirelli in Game 1; as the game went on, they made Colorado’s top-six uncomfortable, providing defensive energy against the Avalanche’s firepower.

In Game 2, no one, including Killorn, provided anything beneficial to the cause. After the shutout loss, it was clear that the Lightning needed offense from all four lines, not just from the top line. In Game 3, the Lightning got goals from up and down the lineup. While Killorn went scoreless yet again, his defensive presence against the Avs’ top line was a key to the victory.

Anthony Cirelli Alex Killorn Tampa Bay Lightning
Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What better time than now for Killorn to catch fire. Given the importance of depth scoring in this series, any offense help could be the difference in getting back in the series. We know that he has it in him, with 17 points in 19 games in last year’s playoffs. If he can get some offensive momentum, he could open up the series for the Lightning.

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