Lightning Round: Stamkos nets number 499, isn’t “losing sleep” over the quest for 500

When it happens, it happens.

It’s been a bit of a slow march to a milestone for Steven Stamkos. After scoring career goals number 496 and 497 in back to back games in mid-December he hit a bit of a scoring skid. It took seven games to get number 498 in the books and then another five games to record number 499, which happened in the 5-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The goal itself was vintage Stamkos. With the Tampa Bay Lightning on a 5-on-3 power play, Coach Cooper rolled out his five-forward unit. Brayden Point was at the point position and fed it to Stamkos in the circle. The Captain blasted it into the net from the near side, just over Collin Delia’s blocker.

With plenty of time left on the clock in the third period, and a five-game road trip looming, his teammates were focused on trying to set him up for the milestone goal on home ice. It’s something that Stamkos acknowledged after the game,

“I just don’t want guys to feel obligated to force the puck. That’s the tendency. It’s human nature. It’s something you do when guys are close to milestones like that. That’s why you try to get out of the way as quick as possible so that everyone, including myself can enjoy the moment. You just want guys to make the right play instead of overthinking out there, but I definitely enjoyed the looks I got out there tonight.”

He definitely had plenty of looks on the night. Natural Stat Trick credited him with a team-leading 12 shot attempts and a team-leading 7 shots on goal. He also generated 9 individual scoring chances in 19:19 of ice time. A few more nights like that and he’ll be celebrating his 500th goal in no time. Not that it’s something that is weighing heavily on him.

“It’s not something that’s keeping me up at night. Like I’ve been preaching the whole time. When it’s time to happen it’s going to happen...In all honesty, the only time I think about it is when I get asked about it and I get asked about it a lot.”

That pretty much sums up Steven Stamkos in a nutshell. We’ve watched him start as an 18-year-old trying to find his footing in the league mature into a team leader and future first ballot hall-of-famer. Throughout that entire time he’s never really let the moment affect him. He’s presented an even-keeled, laid back approach to everything he’s achieved in this league, so why should his approach to 500 goals be any different? He’ll get it when he gets it.

Lightning / NHL News

Lightning close out home stand with 5-4 win [Raw Charge]

Not only did they pick up two points at home, they gained some ground on the teams ahead of them as both Boston and Toronto lost. How about that save Andrei Vasilevskiy made at the buzzer, though?

Encouraging signs from the fourth line [Tampa Bay Times]

Yes, the Lightning owe a lot of their success to the talent on the top lines, but time and time again through their playoff runs they’ve outlasted their opponents due to the quality of the depth they can roll out. Hopefully we’re starting to see some of that depth emerge this season.

Stamkos’ comments after the game:

Coach Cooper chats with reporters about the game, Stamkos, and what they are looking for on the upcoming road trip.

Players who deserve to be at the 2023 NHL All-Star Game [Bleacher Report]

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John Tortorella takes away iPads from the Flyers’ bench [PHI Hockey Now]

His critics will count this as another arrow in the quiver for the “Torts is a crotchety old man” argument, but there is something to be said about watching the game instead of dwelling on the past, especially for a young team.

‘Je t’aime Montreal!’ P.K. Subban honored by Canadiens crowd [Montreal Gazette]

There aren’t many players in history that were as much fun to watch as a young P.K. Subban when he zipping around the ice at the Bell Centre. In a perfect world he would never have left and raised a Stanley Cup for the team he won a Norris Trophy with. It didn’t happen, but on Thursday he was welcomed back with cheers from an adoring crowd. And he celebrated with one more triple low five.