Stamkos shatters 500-goal plateau in win

by Gary Shelton on January 19, 2023

in general

Stamkos reached a career goal./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

The climb to 500 took an eternity, it seemed.

There were missed shots, blocked shots, whiffed shots. There were posts and near-misses and sensational saves. For 14 games, Stamkos scored just twice on the journey to one of the NHL's highest goals.

Finally, on Wednesday night, Stamkos got to 500.

About 10 minutes later, he started his climb toward the next 500.

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Point scored his 26th goal./TIM WIRT

Stamkos scored a hat trick in Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory over Vancouver. He became the 47th player to reach the record, only the 19th to do so in less than 1,000 games. He scored five minutes into the game, 10 minutes after that and sealed the game with an empty netter in the final moments.

“That’s a game that you’re going to remember for forever,” said Stamkos. “So to do that and to have that story to tell for years to come, it’s pretty special.”

It was the team-record 11th hat trick for Stamkos, his first of the season. In the history of the league, only six other players got their 500th goal on a night they had a hat trick. Those players are Jean Beliveau, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Brett Hull and Jaromir Jagr. All are Hall of Famers.

“To see that kid grow into a man and a phenomenal leader.." said Jon Cooper, his longtime coach. "To be honest, he’s a generational goal scorer. That’s what he is. Those guys don’t come around that often. Enjoy them while you can."

Cooper admitted that, as a coach, he's glad to see the chase to 500 finish. It obviously affected the Bolts' play.

"I don’t think anyone was shooting a puck at the net if Stamkos was on the ice," Cooper said. "As a coach, I’m glad it’s over with. It can be stressful. It wears on you."

For instance, there was the game against Vancouver. 

"I'm happy we won, " Cooper said. "I'm not really happy with the way we won. We got that four-goal lead and just sat back for two periods."

Alex Killorn had the assist on the first two goals.

Also scoring for the Bolts were Nikita Kucherov (the 264th of his career) and Brayden Point (his 193rd).

Goaltender Brian Elliott, who had struggled lately, had 37 saves, 18 of them in the first period.

It was the fifth win in a row for the Bolts.

The Bolts play in Edmonton tonight at 9 p.m.

Elliott had a strong game./TIM WIRT

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