Stamkos' 300th goal leads Lightning past Penguins
Tampa Bay captain second-fastest active player to reach milestoneby Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent
PITTSBURGH - Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos wanted to get his 300th goal out of the way quickly, and did against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Stamkos scored for the second straight game to reach the milestone and help the Lightning defeat the Penguins 4-2 at Consol Energy Center.
After Anton Stralman opened the scoring for Tampa Bay, Stamkos extended the lead to 2-0 at 11:20 of the first period. Alex Killorn began the play by fluttering a shot through goalie Jeff Zatkoff and off the left post, where it bounced through the crease. Stamkos beat defenseman Kris Letang to the puck and flicked it over the goal line before Zatkoff could recover.
"It's pretty special," Stamkos said. "First of all, it means you've been around for a while, and secondly, I've been fortunate to play with a lot of good players. I've been able to be put in positions to score goals, and obviously it was special coming in a big win for our team."
Video: TBL@PIT: Stralman snipes goal from point
Stamkos, who scored his 299th goal in a 6-5 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, became the third Tampa Bay player to score 300, joining Vincent Lecavalier (383) and Martin St. Louis (365). Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (349) is the only player who has scored more goals than Stamkos since he entered the NHL in 2008-09.
At 26 years, 13 days old, Stamkos is the ninth-youngest player to score 300 goals, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He's the second-youngest active player to get there after Ovechkin, who was 25 years, 200 days old when he scored No. 300 on April 5, 2011. Stamkos also is the first player from the 2008 NHL Draft to reach the mark; he has 162 more goals than Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle, the next-closest player from his draft class.
"I'm usually pretty aware [when a milestone is approaching]," Stamkos said. "I knew coming in I had 299, so it's not a crazy number where you're losing sleep over it, but when you're close to something like that it's nice to get it and get it out of the way and just focus on what you have to do to win."
Tampa Bay (32-22-4) won a regular-season game at Consol Energy Center for the first time since it opened in October 2010.
"I didn't think we gave them a whole lot," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "When we did give them something, it was either we were on a power play or it was 4-on-4. But other than that, I thought 5-on-5 we played pretty steady. We got the lead. We played D. That was pretty much it."
Video: TBL@PIT: Lightning score on slick tic-tac-toe passing
Tom Kuhnhackl and Scott Wilson scored for the Penguins. Zatkoff, who started in place of Marc-Andre Fleury, made 16 saves. The Penguins announced during pre-game warmup that Fleury was ill.
"I thought we played hard," Zatkoff said. "I thought we were resilient. I thought we were in the game. … We kept battling back. The guys played really hard."
After Stamkos' goal, the Lightning maintained a multi-goal lead for the remainder of the game.
Earlier in the first period, after Penguins forward Kevin Porter sent a shot off the crossbar, Stralman scored at the other end to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Vladislav Namestnikov fed Stralman from below the goal line. Stralman faked a slap shot to freeze Wilson before sending a wrist shot through traffic and Zatkoff at 9:08 of the first period. The goal was Stralman's ninth of the season and fourth in three games against the Penguins.
Following Stamkos' goal, Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle pushed the lead to 3-0 with a knuckling shot between Zatkoff's pads for his first goal of the season 3:14 into the second period.
Video: TBL@PIT: Zatkoff turns away quick wrister
Kuhnhackl scored his first NHL goal on a shorthanded 2-on-1 to cut the deficit to 3-1 at 5:35 of the second, but Tyler Johnson put the Lightning ahead 4-1 on his ninth goal of the season at 11:53 of the second.
Wilson scored his second NHL goal with 3:59 left in the second to close the scoring.
The Penguins had an opportunity to pull within one goal when they had a 5-on-3 power play for the final 1:08 of the second period but they attempted one shot, which Letang sent wide of the net. The power play expired 17 seconds into the third period without goalie Ben Bishop making a save.
"I think that was a big moment for us," Sullivan said. "I told our guys that after the game. I think if we score in that circumstance, we're going into the third period down one. It's a real game. It's close. We're one shot away."
Video: TBL@PIT: Carle sneaks one in from point on deflection
Bishop made 37 saves in his 23rd win.
"I thought we did a good job of responding after they got that shorthanded goal. We got another one shortly after," Bishop said. "That stuff's going to happen. Obviously, we want to clean that up a little bit. On the power play, we can't be giving up shorthanded goals like that. Other than that, the guys responded pretty well. A little bit of bend there, but definitely no break."
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said defenseman Ben Lovejoy sustained an upper-body injury during the game and will not play Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres.
Lightning forward Cedric Paquette was injured late in the third period after blocking a shot and was helped off the ice and did not return. Cooper did not have an update.