The march to the milestone was a little slow for Stephen Stamkos, who hit a bit of a scoring skid after posting career goals of 496 and 497 in back-to-back games in mid-December. It took him seven games to get number 498 in the books, and he recorded number 499 in five more games. This happened during a 5-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
The target itself was a vintage Stamkos. Coach Cooper deployed his 5-forward unit as the Tampa Bay Lightning rolled out his 5-for-3 power play. Brayden Point was in point position and he in the circle fed to Stamkos. The captain blew into the net from the near side, just above Colin Delia’s blocker.
With plenty of time left in the third period and a five-game trip looming, his teammates were focused on preparing him for a milestone goal on home ice. That’s what Stamkos admitted after the match,
“I don’t want players to feel like they have to force the puck. That’s the tendency. It’s human nature. That’s what you do when you get close to a milestone like that. That’s why everyone, me included. I try to get off the road as quickly as possible so that I can enjoy the moment.I just want them to play right instead of overthinking it, but tonight’s looks were definitely fun.”
He definitely had plenty of looks on the night, with the Natural Stat Trick crediting him with a team-leading 12 shooting attempts and a team-leading 7 goals. He also created nine individual scoring chances at 19:19 in ice time. A few more nights like that and he’ll soon be celebrating his 500th goal.
“It’s not what keeps me up late. Like I’ve been preaching all along. When the time comes for it to happen, it will happen… Honestly, what I think about it is that It’s only when I’m asked about , and I get asked a lot about it.
This pretty much sums up Stephen Stamkos in a nutshell. I’ve seen you inducted into the Hall of Fame. All the while, he never let the moment affect him. He has shown a calm and laid-back approach to everything he has achieved in this league, so why 500 goals? Is his approach to it different? He’ll get it when he gets it.
Lightning / NHL News
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Post-match comments from Stamkos:
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