Steven Stamkos is rolling, which is a big reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning are a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2004.
In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers on Sunday, Stamkos' power-play goal provided the final margin of victory in a 2-0 Lightning win that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. He finished a tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov when he redirected Palat's pass to beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 18:22 of the second period.
Stamkos, who scored 43 goals in the regular season, had a goal and an assist on Sunday, and is tied for second on the Lightning with 17 playoff points. After going the first eight games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs without a goal, the Lightning captain has scored in four straight games, and has seven goals and 14 points in his past 10. The four-game goal streak is tied for the Lightning playoff record set by Martin St. Louis in 2003 and Vincent Lecavalier in 2007.
Stamkos' surge has coincided with a move from his natural center position to the right wing on a line with Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula.
"We switched some things up; [I] moved to the wing, tried to free some things up," Stamkos said. "The power play has gotten a lot better too, where you get a couple goals, you get a couple points there, now you're feeling a little better. So everything has kind of accumulated to this point right now. But when you have confidence, you try to keep it as long as you can, because it is tough to get at this time of the year."
Game 6 is Tuesday at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"Before it was two, now it's one win away from the Finals," Stamkos said. "I think we realize that, but at the same time, I think this playoffs, we've had a big emotional win and we've kind of had a letdown game. I think we learned our lesson pretty quickly. The toughest one to win is the fourth one, especially at this time of year."