Few players manage to hit 500 goals in the National Hockey League (NHL), and when Steven Stamkos got close, all of his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates went into overdrive.
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“If you watched one of our last games, I don’t think anyone would shoot at the net if Stamkos was on the ice,” head coach Jon Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday night.
“It can be stressful approaching a plateau like this. “Stammer” was positive and he spoke to the team, but I know the weight creates and you’re anticipating that big moment.
For great evils great remedies. In the duel against the Vancouver Canucks, some tried at all costs to return the disc to the captain. So did defender Victor Hedman, who tried everything on Monday night in the 4-1 win over the Seattle Kraken.
“That’s all that went through my mind. After the goal, the first thing I did at the restart was see if I could go with him. [la rondelle]. It would have taken something special to make it work. You’re looking for it all the time. I wanted to try to hit the post so he could have the rebound,” admitted the Swede after the 5-2 win in Vancouver.
Stamkos ultimately didn’t need Hedman’s sophisticated tactics. His hat trick against the Canucks was more than enough.
A rare achievement
The 32-year-old hockey player is the 47th player in history to have scored 500 goals and just the 23rd to do so with a team. Alex Killorn, who served him the famous pass to defeat Spencer Martin, was visibly happy as he jumped into Stamkos’ arms.
“It’s such a touching experience when you can celebrate a moment like that with your teammates, just as excited as you are. I’m so happy to be able to count on them,” said the number 91 in a press conference.
“It’s a part I’ll remember for the rest of my life. To do that and to be able to tell this story over the years is very special.”
Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the only two other active hockey players who have managed the feat. With 502 goals, Stamkos is ranked 45th in history. Notably, he could soon join Quebecers Jean Béliveau (507) and Gilbert Perreault (512).