PITTSBURGH (AP) – Steven Stamkos isn’t going anywhere. Not this season at least.
If the Tampa Bay Lightning star is concerned about his long-term future, it certainly doesn’t show.
The Tampa Bay captain tapped in a rebound for his 300th goal on Saturday as the Lightning quieted surging Pittsburgh 4-2.
Stamkos joined Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis as the only players in franchise history to reach the 300-goal plateau when he knocked in a rebound off Alex Killorn’s shot just past the midway point in the first period.
“It’s pretty special,” Stamkos said. “First of all, it means you’ve around for awhile and secondly, I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of good players. I’ve been able to be put in positions to score goals and obviously it was special coming in a big win for our team.”
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman announced last week the Lightning would hold on to Stamkos past the Feb. 29 trade deadline even with the two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner in the final months of a deal that pays him about $5.5 million this season.
Stamkos is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July and will likely get a massive bump in pay. The Lightning remain optimistic Stamkos will stick around.
And while it has scuffled at times this season coming off a run to the Stanley Cup finals last spring, Tampa Bay put an end to Pittsburgh’s momentum by beating the Penguins on the road in the regular season for the first time since Nov. 12, 2010.
Anton Stralman, Matthew Carle and Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop finished with 37 saves, including a couple during a 5-on-3 Pittsburgh power play late in the second period that preserved a two-goal advantage.
“We got the lead and played defense and that was pretty much it,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Tom Kuhnhackl picked up the first NHL goal of his career for Pittsburgh. Scott Wilson added his second in as many games, but the Penguins went 0 for 4 on the power play and couldn’t rally after spotting Tampa Bay three early goals.
Jeff Zatkoff stopped 16 of 20 shots while making an impromptu start when Marc-Andre Fleury became ill during pregame. Fleury gave Zatkoff a heads up early Saturday he wasn’t feeling well, though Zatkoff refused to blame the loss on getting short notice he was going to play.
“That’s my role,” Zatkoff said after just his fourth appearance since Jan. 1. “That’s my job to be able to come in and give the team a chance and to give him a night off. Unfortunately we didn’t get it done. I didn’t get it done tonight.”