In the Tampa Bay Lightning’s most recent game, Steven Stamkos
joined an elite group as one of the youngest players to record 50
goals in a season.
In the final game of the 2009-10 season, he’ll take aim at the
franchise record for goals scored.
Stamkos and the Lightning close another disappointing campaign
against the Florida Panthers on Sunday at BankAtlantic Center.
The Lightning (33-36-12) are out of the playoffs for a third
straight season, but will finish with their highest point total
since recording 93 in 2006-07.
Still, Stamkos showed the future may continue to get brighter
for Tampa Bay. With two goals in a 4-3 shootout win over Florida
(32-36-13) on Saturday he became the third-youngest player to score
50 in a season.
“It’s going to take a couple of days to sink in,” Stamkos told
the Lightning’s official Web site. “They can never take that away
from me. It was definitely a big moment in my career and hopefully
there will be a lot more.”
At 20 years, 2 months and 3 days, only Wayne Gretzky (19 years,
2 months) and Jimmy Carson had 50-goal seasons earlier than Stamkos
– the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
As a rookie, Stamkos got off to a very slow start before heating
up late to finish with 23 goals. Coach Rick Tocchet said he’s seen
much better things this season.
“I don’t want to put pressure on him, the one thing I think is
that he’s emerging as a leader,” Tocchet said. “He expects this of
himself. That’s what I like about him, that he is willing to do the
Stamkos, who also had the only shootout goal Saturday, is within
reach of Vincent Lecavalier’s single-season franchise mark of 52
goals set three years ago. Stamkos has five goals in the last five
“In between the second and third, Vinny came up to me and said,
‘Welcome to the club,'” said Stamkos, who has four goals and two
assists against the Panthers this season. “That was pretty special
to be able to hear that.”
Stamkos helped the Lightning snap a three-game losing streak
against Florida. He was helped out by Antero Niittymaki, who made
29 saves and didn’t allow a goal in the shootout after giving up a
tying score to Nathan Horton midway through the third period.
Horton, who also assisted on goals by Stephen Weiss and Michael
Frolik, has two goals and four assists in a three-game points
Florida dropped to 2-5-2 in its last nine games as it failed to
build off Thursday’s 3-2 win over Atlantic Division champion New
The Panthers, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 1999-2000,
have won 15 of their last 20 at home against the Lightning, and
have taken away at least one point in the last six.