Steven Stamkos admitted he was more concerned with helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win than scoring his 100th career goal. After a stellar performance Monday night, the Lightning forward did both.
Stamkos notched his 100th career goal, Dan Ellis stopped 21 of 22 shots and the Tampa Bay Lightning won for the fourth straight time with a 5-1 victory over the division rival Carolina Hurricanes at the St. Pete Times Forum.
At 20 years and 316 days old, Stamkos became just the sixth NHL player in history to record at least 100 goals before turning age 21, joining Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson, Brian Bellows, Dale Hawerchuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.
“It’s obviously nice to have that accomplishment,” Stamkos said. “It wasn’t really anything that was brought up or that I came into the game thinking about. As a team, we’re on a good streak right now and I was just happy to chip in.”
Stamkos’ power-play tally at 16:26 in the middle frame straddled an additional pair of goals by Brett Clark and Sean Bergenheim that capped a three-goal second period, as well as the game’s scoring through the first 40 minutes.
Dominic Moore also scored for Tampa Bay, winners in 11 of its last 16 overall games.
Martin St. Louis contributed a first-period goal with one second remaining in the opening frame which proved to be the game-winner, as he passed Vincent Lecavalier for first place on the all-time franchise list with his 51st career game-deciding goal.
“Everyone knows he’s a heart and soul guy,” Head Coach Guy Boucher said of St. Louis. “For me, everything starts with attitude, then it goes down to work ethic and then it’s discipline. He’s got all three.”
St. Louis has six points in his last two games after recording his second consecutive three-point night.
Ellis got the start after Mike Smith suffered an injury during the team’s morning skate. The late call seemed to have no effect on Ellis, who made several big saves which helped spark the momentum on the scoring end.
“I think that’s the mark of good goaltenders,” Boucher added. “When things go well, most guys will play well. Good goaltenders will keep you in it until you get settled, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Carolina goaltender Justin Peters earned the start over Cam Ward after a similar, unexpected injury forced the Hurricanes net minder the night off. Peters finished the night with 29 saves, but allowed 18 shots in the second period that saw Tampa Bay limit Carolina to just two.
“He came in the other night for us and played great, helped us get two points and helped us win,” Hurricanes Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “He came a little off his mark today, but we probably could have done a few things better too.”
Moore opened scoring five minutes into the first after completing a nifty move along the half boards. He handled the puck and skated around Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo before stickhandling through the faceoff circle and backhanding one past Peters at 5:48.
Sergei Samsonov had the lone goal for the Hurricanes, whose four-game win streak came to a halt. He tied it at one on the power play at 15:52, but St. Louis responded with a slap shot from the left circle with just a second remaining in the period.
Clark made it 3-1 when St. Louis’ slap shot deflected off him out in front and into the net at 14:51 of the second. Stamkos and Bergenheim padded the lead with back-to-back power-play goals just 2:32 apart to round out the scoring.
“We had a little bit of a sluggish first period and we didn’t come out the way we wanted to,” Ellis said. “But we responded in the second and really put the hammer down.”
Vincent Lecavalier recorded his 750th career point with an assist on the final goal after recording a team-high six shots on the night in just his second game back from injury.
“We’re happy with our performance,” St. Louis said. “I wish we could have come out a little better in the first, but you know, that happens and I’m glad we responded.”
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