TAMPA, Fla. – Steven Stamkos is fast becoming an elite NHL player.
Stamkos had two power-play goals and an assist to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Thursday night. “He’s emerging as a leader,” Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said about Stamkos, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft. “I’m not going to put too much pressure on him. For a 19-year old, a pretty good player.”
Todd Fedoruk, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay also scored for the Lightning, who are 4-0-2 at home.
Stamkos opened the scoring at 7:20 of the first when his redirection of Vincent Lecavalier’s shot went into the net off Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba. The second-year centre gave the Lightning a 4-0 lead at 7:09 of the third from the low right circle after a nifty stickhandling move.
“He’s a gifted goal scorer,” Tanguay said. “It’s fun to watch, for sure.”
Stamkos has nine goals in 10 games this season. He had 23 goals during his rookie year last season.
“I’m feeling really confident on the ice,” Stamkos said. “Feeling better than it was last year. I want to be out there touching the puck and making some plays. It’s working so far and I just want keep it up.”
Ottawa got third-period goals from Jarkko Ruutu and Alex Kovalev. The Senators were coming off a 4-3 win Wednesday night at Florida.
“I don’t know if it’s fatigue,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. “I think that first goal almost set the tone for the game. It was a power-play goal on a penalty that they high-sticked themselves. Those are hard to take.”
Tanguay stopped a personal 12-game goal drought, dating to April 4, just over two minutes after Stamkos’ second goal.
Fedoruk made it 2-0 on an in-close rebound goal at 4:34 of the second. Malone’s wraparound goal extended Tampa Bay’s advantage to 3-0 with 5:12 left in the second.
After stopping a shot by Milan Michalek earlier in the third during a breakaway, Lightning goalie Mike Smith lost his shutout bid when Ruutu scored with 9:43 remaining. Kovalev cut the Ottawa deficit to 5-2 later in the period.
In the first meeting between the teams this season on Oct. 15, Ottawa beat the Lightning 7-1.
“They really handed us a spanking,” Stamkos said. “Obviously we wanted to comeback and give it right back to them in front of our home fans.”
Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis played in his 700th NHL games and extended his franchise-record season-opening points streak to 10 games (11 assists, 14 points) with an assist. The NHL record is 51 games, set by Wayne Gretzky during the 1983-84 season.
St. Louis missed the net to the right on short-handed penalty shot midway through the second.
NOTES: Senators D Anton Volchenkov is expected to miss at least a couple weeks after hurting his right elbow in Wednesday’s game. He was replaced on the roster by D Brian Lee, who was recalled from Binghamton of the AHL. … Ottawa C Jason Spezza didn’t play due to an upper-body injury, and is day-to-day. … New Jersey special assignment coach Pat Burns, who is battling cancer, scouted the game in preparation for the Devils’ game at Tampa Bay on Saturday night.