TAMPA — Lightning defenseman Brett Clark has a list of why Steven Stamkos is the player he is.
There is his willingness to get to the net and also his hard work along the boards. But the crux of the matter was this:
"That," Clark said, "is a true goal scorer."
It was on display again Monday night in a 4-2 victory over the Capitals in the home finale at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Stamkos scored twice — the winner with 1:03 left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, and into an empty net with 1.5 seconds left — for a league-best 58 goals.
The center has eight goals in his past six games. Two in the final three games on the road and he becomes the second NHL player in 15 seasons to reach 60 and the first since Washington's Alex Ovechkin had 65 in 2007-08.
No pressure, Stamkos said.
"The way it's going right now is the way I want to keep it going," he said. "Not a lot of thinking, just going to the right places and getting some bounces."
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves, including a lunging glove save on Mike Green's wrist shot that was, according to Stamkos, "one of the best saves I've seen live in a game in my career."
The stop with 4:12 left in the second kept the Capitals lead at 1-0 and set up two goals in 25 seconds by Teddy Purcell, on the power play, and Victor Hedman, from the point through traffic, for a 2-1 lead with 2:15 remaining in the period.
"I expected him to shoot," Roloson said. "I was trying my best to get something there and I was able to see it coming and get my glove on it."
The Lightning's 25th home win tied a franchise record which more than anything spotlighted how badly the team (37-35-7 overall, 25-14-2 at home) played on the road.
"But I don't want to cringe," coach Guy Boucher said. "There's so much positive stuff that happened this year. We need to focus on that."
Such as Stamkos — 134 seconds after Jason Chimera tied the score 2-2 — scoring on a rebound of Clark's shot from the high slot for his league-best 12th winning goal.
"Our D did a great job of getting the shot through," said Stamkos, whose 95 points ties his career high. "I turned and it was right on my stick. It wasn't the nicest goal, but I'll take it."
Take it? He earned it, Boucher said. "He drives and pays the price. It's not just skill. There's a willingness to do the dirty work around the net."
"That's a lot of hard work and going to the tough areas to score those goals," Roloson said. "He knows where to be."
Like a true goal scorer.
First—None. Penalties—Hendricks, Was (cross-checking), 6:13; Semin, Was (hooking), 10:23; Malone, TB (interference), 14:48.
Second—1, Washington, Semin 20 (Perreault), 12:47. 2, Tampa Bay, Purcell 21 (Stamkos, St. Louis), 17:20 (pp). 3, Tampa Bay, Hedman 5 (Thompson, Pyatt), 17:45. Penalties—Chimera, Was, major (fighting), 5:39; Malone, TB, major (fighting), 5:39; Orlov, Was (interference), 16:42.
Third—4, Washington, Chimera 20 (Semin), 16:43. 5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 57 (Clark, Lee), 18:57. 6, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 58 (Thompson, Brewer), 19:58 (en). Penalties—Lee, TB (interference), :08; Wideman, Was (slashing), 12:29. Shots—Washington 7-11-15—33. Tampa Bay 5-10-12—27. Power plays—Washington 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 1 of 4. Goalies—Washington, Neuvirth 13-13-5 (26 shots-23 saves). Tampa Bay, Roloson 12-16-2 (33-31). A—19,204 (19,204). T—2:28.