Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos will be without the heavy weight he has been carrying recently when the Lightning travel to Edmonton to play the Oilers on Thursday night.
In Tampa Bay’s 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, the Lightning’s third straight win on a five-game Western Conference road trip, Stamkos earned a piece of history.
After notching career goal No. 497 on Dec. 13, the Lightning captain had just two goals over the next 14 games. But against the Canucks, Stamkos got the milestone, and then some.
Less than five minutes into the game, Stamkos netted career goal No. 500. Ten minutes later, he recorded No. 501, making it a 4-0 game and chasing Vancouver goaltender Spencer Martin. Stamkos’ late empty-netter completed his 11th career hat trick.
A two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goal-scorer, Stamkos notched his first tally against Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Oct. 30, 2008.
Stamkos, 32, is the first Lightning player and 47th in league history to pot 500. He joined Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby as active players who reached the plateau.
“It’s an all-time moment in my career, and I’ve been fortunate to play it with one organization,” said Stamkos, who became the eighth player to notch a hat trick and his 500th goal in the same game. “It was worth the wait.”
The Lightning lost the last two times they opposed Edmonton after winning five straight vs. the Oilers. Tampa Bay ahs claimed nine of the past 13 matchups (9-3-1).
Sidelined for more than two months, Edmonton’s Evander Kane made his return on Tuesday in the Oilers’ 5-2 win over the visiting Seattle Kraken, but the Lightning are a dicey subject for the 31-year-old left winger.
On Nov. 8 in Tampa during Edmonton’s 3-2 win over the reigning Eastern Conference champions, Kane’s left wrist was slashed by the skate of Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon in a freak accident. Kane immediately got up, cupped his bleeding wrist and dashed to the dressing room for medical attention.
In his return against Seattle after the 31-game absence, Kane started on a line with Connor McDavid but skated primarily opposite right winger Warren Foegele on a third line led by pivot Ryan McLeod.
The Vancouver native registered seven shots on goal and delivered five hits (both figures leading the team) while registering a minus-1 in 17:09 of ice time.
“No issues other than my (lack of) finish,” said Kane, who was expected to miss three to four months. “I guess I can’t expect too much. But I had my looks (on Tuesday), which is a positive. I’ll just try to build on that.”
During his 58-game tenure with the Oilers, Kane has 27 goals and 25 assists and is plus-28 while Edmonton sports a 37-17-4 mark in those contests. He tied for the NHL lead in goals last postseason with 13 goals in 15 games.
In a move to remain cap compliant, Edmonton placed right winger Kailer Yamamoto (undisclosed) and defenseman Ryan Murray (back) on long-term injured reserve. Yamamoto has missed the past three games while Murray has not played since Nov. 21.
The Tuesday victory was the Oilers’ fourth straight overall but just the second in Edmonton’s past eight home contests (2-4-2). The Oilers improved to 5-2-1 in January.
–Field Level Media