TAMPA — C Steven Stamkos scored his first goal in 11 months Thursday, the Lightning captain one-timing a pass from LW Vladislav Namestnikov past Penguins G Antti Niemi early in the second period of Tampa Bay's 5-4 win.
Stamkos, who last scored Nov. 15 at Detroit on the night he sustained a season-ending knee surgery, had five points through the first three games of this 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 him scoring goals this season, but he's still shaking off the rust from the long layoff.
"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's a matter of which linemate has the best scoring chance.
"I knew it was a matter of time," Stamkos said. "I wasn't losing sleep over it. I'm just happy to be playing hockey again, to be part of some wins here."
C Cedric Paquette became the first regular to miss a game this season because of an injury. The team did not disclose specifics of the 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)."
Koekkoek for two
D Slater Koekkoek was the forgotten man during Monday's game against the Capitals when he played just more than three minutes during six shifts. It was a different story Thursday as he scored the first two goals of his career, including what proved to be the winner. The first came just 6:07 into the first when his shot from inside the blue line bounced off a Penguins player and into the net. "That was a lucky bounce," he said, "and I'll take those all day." His second came on a 3-on-1 early in the third, when, standing to the right of Niemi, he settled a pass from F Alex Killorn with his skate, then sent a backhander into the net for a 5-3 lead. "I was looking for (C Tyler Johnson) backdoor, but the goalie was right on me," Koekkoek said. "A little fake and he opened up his five hole."
F Alex Killorn had a career-high four assists, one shy of the Lightning record shared by Marty St. Louis and Mark Recchi. … D Victor Hedman scored his first of the season on a power play with a tenth of a second left in the first. … RW J.T. Brown and D Andre Sustr were healthy scratches.