If it wasn’t for Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos would be the choice of many as the most natural goal scorer of the modern era. One needs only to watch Stamkos’ game-tying goal from Tuesday night to understand why.
With the Lightning trailing by a single goal Tuesday, Stamkos found himself behind the Florida Panthers net with 10 seconds left in the third period. After finding some space, Stamkos fired a pass back to defenseman Victor Hedman, who then walked the blueline and worked the puck closer to the middle of the ice. As he drew players across, though, Hedman kept his eyes on Stamkos.
Stamkos used Hedman’s possession to find a soft spot in coverage and set up to the left of the Panthers’ goal. With his feet almost touching the goal line, Stamkos took a pass from Hedman and wasted no time scoring a goal from what, for most, would have been an impossible angle:
It’s on the replay that you can really get an appreciation for Stamkos’ shot, and you quickly realize it’s not even so much the angle of his shot but the way he pitches his blade on the follow-through that makes the goal so impressive. That’s not so much a one-timer as it is a perfect guided deflection into the top corner.
It’s worth watching Panthers goaltender James Reimer’s head after Stamkos buries the shot, too. It doesn’t seem as though Reimer’s immediate reaction isn’t one of disappointment, but rather shock. He immediately turns his head back to the center of the ice and appears confused as to how anyone could have possibly scored from that angle.
Stamkos’ goal helped the Bolts pick up a single point on the evening, and, after overtime solved nothing, rookie Brayden Point ensured Tampa Bay got the second point of the night with a shootout-winning goal.
Through three games, Stamkos’ two goals put him on pace to end the campaign with 55 on the year. For most players, a goals pace such as that may seem unsustainable, but with Stamkos it seems a near likelihood he’ll flirt with the 50-goal mark if he can stay healthy.
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