Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice Tuesday night to join the exclusive club of NHL players who reached the hallowed 50-goal mark in a season twice before their 23rd birthday.
Stamkos scored Nos. 49 and 50 against the Boston Bruins, the last two goals in the Bolts' 6-1 win against Boston on Tuesday night. The 22-year-old had 51 goals two seasons ago, which tied him for the League lead with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
He also became the seventh player in League history to reach 50 goals in a season twice before turning 23 years old. Wayne Gretzky achieved the feat a record five times, while five others -- Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Joe Nieuwendyk, Pavel Bure and Alex Ovechkin -- each had two seasons with at least 50. In all, 90 players have scored 50 or more goals at least once in a season.
"Getting 50 goals is something special," Stamkos said afterward. "It's a magic number in hockey, and it's so special to do it in front of your home fans with a big win. That makes the memory last even longer and better. It's a great feeling and something that no one can ever take away from me."
Stamkos has 30 goals in his last 35 games and looks poised to win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for the second time, which he shared with Crosby in 2009-10. He would be the fourth player to win it twice, joining Pavel Bure, Jarome Iginla and Ovechkin. His 50 goals are 12 more than runner-up Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh.
The two goals also give Stamkos 146 since the start of the 2009-10 season. He has 35 more than any other NHL player during this three-year run -- Corey Perry and Alex Ovechkin have 111 during that period.
To put Stamkos' scoring prowess in prospective, Ovechkin had 35 more goals than his closest competitor during his best three-year run, from 2007-08 to 2009-10. Ovechkin had 171 goals in those three years, while Ilya Kovalchuk had 146.