TAMPA — C Steven Stamkos scored his first goal in 11 months Thursday when he one-timed a pass from LW Vladislav Namestnikov past Penguins G Antti Niemi early in the second period.
Stamkos, who last scored Nov. 15 at Detroit, the night he sustained a season-ending knee surgery, had five points through the first three games of the season — all on assists.
“I think I’m more of a playmaker now than a goal scorer,” Stamkos said after Thursday’s morning skate.
He was kidding.
Stamkos was held without a goal in four preseason games and the first three regular-season games. The Lightning is counting heavily on its captain scoring goals this season, but he is still shaking the rust from the long layoff, particularly when he tries to one-time passes.
That rust, though, was gone on his goal.
“Obviously everyone looks at me as a goal scorer and expects that,” Stamkos said.
But, he quickly added, he is playing on a line with RW Nikita Kucherov, who in the second period scored his fourth goal of the season, and Namestnikov (two goals). Stamkos said it is a matter of which linemate has the best scoring chance.
“You’d love to score,” he said, “but I’m very excited about the start for our team and for me personally, 10, 11 months, not having played a game, coming back to feel the way I felt so far is very encouraging.”
C Cedric Paquette became the first regular to miss a game this season because of an injury, sitting out Thursday with an undisclosed injury.
“He got banged up (Monday). We thought a little rest would help, and it’s helping,” coach Jon Cooper said. “I don’t see this as a long-term thing, it may be just (Thursday).”
The Penguins, who beat the Capitals 3-2 Wednesday in Washington, didn’t arrive in Tampa until early Thursday …read more