Steven Stamkos insists that helping his team win is more important to him than winning this year’s Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer.
But if his play continues as it did on Wednesday night in a 2-0 win against Pittsburgh, he has a chance to do both.
“I’m just going out and having fun. It’s definitely fun scoring goals and doing everything you can to help the team win,” Stamkos said. “It’s going to be a good race hopefully.”
Trailing Sidney Crosby and his 47 goals, Stamkos scored a goal and helped set up another to move into a second-place tie with Alex Ovechkin at 46, and inch closer to holding a share of the top spot for the league lead.
At 20 years old and nearly two months, the Lightning’s second-year forward is bidding to become the youngest player to lead the NHL in goals since Rick Nash shared honors with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk in 2004.
“The last month his game has been at another level. He’s just been incredible, he’s been dominating games, and I don’t know where we would be without Steven Stamkos,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said.
Steve Downie also scored for Tampa Bay, who improved to 6-4-1 in the final half of back-to-back sets this season, and Mike Smith recorded his 10th career shutout in a 27-save effort to earn his first win since Jan. 8.
“If you want to be an NHL player, you have to bring your best out there,” Tocchet added. “That’s why sometimes we get disappointed, because some of the guys don’t realize that to be a great NHL player, you have to measure yourself against the best.”
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on a power play goal by Stamkos at 17:00. With the puck along the side boards, Martin St. Louis made a cross-ice pass to Stamkos at the left circle, who rattled the underside of the crossbar with a one-timed slap shot.
“Marty made a great play there. He found me at the circle and I had one before that which I just missed, but I got good wood on this one and it was a great pass. I’m just happy I finished it,” Stamkos said.
Downie put the Lightning up by two to open the second with a wrist shot from the right circle that deflected off the inside of the far post before striking the back of the net.
St. Louis recorded his second assist on the goal, capping a two-point night.
“Stammer made a great play down low and got the puck to Marty who tried to make a play. The puck just ended up on my stick there and I put it in the net,” Downie said.
The loss was the Penguins’ first in their last three, while Tampa Bay won for the first time in Pittsburgh since Dec. 23, 2008.
“I thought we played pretty physical,” Downie added. “We’ve been struggling on the road this year so to get a win in Pittsburgh is huge for us and for our confidence.”
tampabaylightning.com is the official Web site of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay Lightning and tampabaylightning.com are trademarks of Lightning Hockey L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Lightning Hockey, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.