In the wake of their 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins three milestones were achieved. Steven Stamkos reached 600 career points (in 595 games) and became the Tampa Bay Lightning’s all-time leader in power-play goals. The Lightning also matched a franchise milestone which could be broken Tuesday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.
Oh Captain, my Captain
Stamkos’s 113th power-play goal was the result of some beautiful passing by the Lightning. Victor Hedman started the play by stopping a clearing attempt by Carl Hagelin and then slid the puck to Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov hovered near the right half boards before playing a small game of give and go with Alex Killorn; he then fed a pass to Vladislav Namestnikov who was at the goal line. Namestnikov shielded the puck with his back from a Penguins defender before feeding a backhand pass across the crease to a wide open Stamkos who wasted little time in elevating his shot ensure Antti Niemi had no chance to stop it. Lightning - two, Penguins - zero. Stamkos is now the Lightning’s all-time leader in power-play goals and there will be plenty more for the Captain to add to his already impressive career.
Additionally, Stamkos achieved another milestone on the Lightning’s seventh (yes, you read that right; seventh) goal of the evening.
While on the power-play midway through the third period Namestnikov retrieved a loose puck in the Lightning zone and proceeded to skate the puck up the ice into the offensive zone. As the Penguins’ penalty killers tried to cut off his progress Namestnikov dropped a pass to Stamkos who then glided towards the bottom of the left face-off circle. Mikhail Sergachev wisely read the coverage Pittsburgh was doing— which was puck watching Stamkos—and slid into the slot uncovered. Sergachev tapped his stick on the ice signalling to Stamkos that he was open. Stamkos picked his head up, fed a pass right onto Sergachev’s stick, and watched as the rookie scored his third goal of the season. The assist gave Stamkos his 600th point of his career.
Currently, the captain sits third all-time in points for the Tampa Bay Lightning trailing only Vincent Lecavalier (874) and Martin St. Louis (953).
Lightning fast start
The Lightning have also achieved something noteworthy. Their 7-1-1 start is currently tied for the franchise’s best start to a season. What other Lightning team started this well? The 2003-2004 team and that season ended quite well for them if memory serves me right.
The 2003-2004 Lightning team won seven of their first nine games, tying San Jose in their seventh game and losing to Washington in their ninth. That season the Lightning finished second in the NHL with 106 points (second only to the 109 points posted by the Detroit Red Wings) and won the Stanley Cup over the Calgary Flames. We shall see if this season’s version of the Lightning can capitalize on the hot start they’ve gotten off too.