Lightning's Alex Killorn Wanted to Play Games 6, 7 After Surgery on Broken Leg InjuryJuly 8, 2021
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn said he was aiming to play in the final two games of the Stanley Cup Final despite suffering a broken fibula in Game 1.
Killorn told reporters he recently underwent surgery, but his return plans were rendered moot as the Bolts shut out the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 on Wednesday night to win their second straight NHL championship.
The 31-year-old was a key contributor for the Lightning before the injury. He tallied 17 points (eight goals and nine assists) in 19 playoff games, an uptick from his regular-season scoring rate of 33 points (15 goals and 18 assists) across 56 appearances.
Teammate Blake Coleman praised Killorn for his wide-ranging impact before Game 5 but also credited those who stepped into larger roles in his absence during the Final:
"He's got his fingerprints all over this team. He's a great penalty killer. He plays on our first power-play unit. He's great 5-on-5. Good puck possession guy. He's physical. There's not many things he doesn't do for us. We certainly miss him when he's not in the lineup. Thankfully we've got a next-man-up mentality and a lot of depth in this room. Guys like [Mathieu Joseph] have stepped in and done a great job. There's certainly areas where his presence is missed, but it's just next man up."
Ross Colton, one of those depth players Coleman was referring to, stepped up in the biggest way possible by scoring the only goal in Tampa's 1-0 win Wednesday.
Make no mistake, the Lightning are built on star power, led by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, but it usually takes quite a bit of secondary scoring to win the Cup, and the Bolts had that too.
While all of Tampa's key players are under contract for next season, they could face some difficult decisions elsewhere on the roster in the offseason. They're projected to be $3.5 million over the salary cap for 2021-22 with only 17 of the 20 roster slots filled, per CapFriendly.
Killorn, who's under contract for two more seasons with a $4.45 million cap hit, could be one of the players whose name is bandied about in trade rumors as the Lightning work to get under the cap.
Even with some necessary moves on the horizon, Tampa Bay will likely enter next season as the favorite to take home a third straight Stanley Cup.