BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lightning left wing Marty St. Louis, at 35, has begun to gray, and don't think 20-year-old Steven Stamkos hasn't noticed.
Still, Stamkos said he never will jab his longtime linemate.
"No, no," Stamkos said. "I'm trying to hold on to him as long as I can. I don't want to ruffle any feathers."
Stamkos laughed as he spoke, but if nothing else, he is being practical.
The center, with a league-best 19 goals in 19 games, is the talk of the NHL. Debate, premature as it is, has even begun about whether he will be the sixth player, and first since Brett Hull in 1991-92, with 50 goals in 50 games.
But Stamkos knows he doesn't perform in a vacuum.
"He's every bit a part of it," he said of St. Louis.
Stamkos and St. Louis, with 60 combined points, are the league's top scoring teammates, 10 points ahead of Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
"Right now they are hotter than anybody," said Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, a regular at the St. Pete Times Forum. "I don't think there's anybody in the league that's close to them."
St. Louis has assisted on 10 of Stamkos' 19 goals, Stamkos on seven of St. Louis' eight.
Both are on seven-game point streaks, Stamkos with nine goals, five assists, St. Louis with three and 10. "It's a symbiosis," coach Guy Boucher said. "They just feed off each other."
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It was a feeding frenzy during Thursday's 8-7 victory over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Stamkos had three goals and four points (a late scoring change deducted an assist). St. Louis had five assists and had helpers on all Stamkos' tallies.
"They play at such a fast pace, and not just with their legs, but up here," Boucher said touching his head. "They see things quick. They move the puck quick. It's very hard to play against."
Linemate Steve Downie has a role, too. He is good with the puck along the boards, and St. Louis said he is underrated as a playmaker. His physical presence also gives Stamkos and St. Louis protection and room.
"One's a pure goal-scorer, the other a pure playmaker," Downie said of his linemates. "I just try to do the little things for them, and hopefully the puck goes in."
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Stamkos, who enters tonight's game with the Sabres at HSBC Arena with league highs of 19 goals, 10 on the power play, and 34 points, said he tries not to think about stats:
"I remember in minor hockey, going to the car and having a couple of goals and a couple of assists, and my dad telling me I played like crap. So it's something I learned at a young age. It's not all about the numbers."
Still, being on pace for 50 goals in 50 games is tough to ignore.
"That's something I definitely don't think about," he said. "You just laugh it off. It's going to be a story because the media wants it to be a story, but at the end of the day, I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to win."
Added St. Louis: "Some things are better left un-talked about. There's no reason to set any bars. Just go play."
That's what Stamkos and St. Louis have done, five-on-five and on the power play, since their January 2009 pairing by then-coach Rick Tocchet.
"We both have good speed, so we force each other to move forward fast and quick," said St. Louis, who is third in the league with 26 points and third with 18 assists, and entered Friday tops with 10 power-play assists. "I have the patience and the poise to create an opening for (Stamkos) to shoot the puck, and what he does for me is he gets open. He's 20 years old, I'm 35, but he brings a lot of energy, and he's very hungry. It keeps me hungry, too."
"I'll say it as many times as I have to: In my mind (St. Louis is) the best playmaker in the game," Stamkos said. "He's 35 years old, but he plays like he's 25. I wish I could play with him another 15 years."
MINOR MOVE: Center James Wright was reassigned to AHL Norfolk.