TAMPA — Can Steven Stamkos score 60 goals?
That was the question Saturday night after the Lightning center scored his league-best 56th in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Jets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"He's got a good chance now," general manager Steve Yzerman said.
Stamkos' goal 45 seconds into the extra period was his fifth overtime winner this season, an NHL record.
But with the league without a 60-goal scorer since Alex Ovechkin got 65 in 2007-08 — and likely only two players this season, Stamkos and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, going to hit 50 — Stamkos' pursuit demands the spotlight.
Especially now that the Lightning (36-35-7) officially is out of the playoff race thanks to the Capitals' win.
(The Capitals also put the Jets out of the playoffs.)
"It's tough not to (think about 60)," said Stamkos, who has four games to get four goals. "I get asked about it every day."
That said, "I'm not going to be pushing for it. I don't want guys to be passing up opportunities to try to get me that. If it's the right play, it's the right play."
The game was a treasure chest of highlights.
Ryan Malone had two goals — including one where he flipped the puck over defenseman Grant Clitsome to create a breakaway — to reach 20. He also fought Ron Hainsey, who cross-checked Marty St. Louis into the boards.
Goaltender Sebastien Caron, signed out of Germany after an injury to Mathieu Garon, made 26 saves in his first NHL start since November 2006 with the Blackhawks.
And right wing J.T. Brown, newly signed out of college, made his NHL debut and fit right in with two shots in 13:33 of ice time.
It also was the Lightning's league-best ninth win when trailing after two periods.
"There was everything," coach Guy Boucher said.
But it was Stamkos' night, all the more sweeter for him because he was robbed by goalie Ondrej Pavelec on a breakaway with 4:34 left in the third period and the score 2-2.
He did not miss from his favorite spot in the left faceoff circle off a perfect set-up pass from defenseman Brian Lee.
And though Stamkos said, "I'd like to be doing this in a season where we were competing for the Stanley Cup," he added about the record for overtime goals, "That's pretty special. As long as the NHL has been around, to have something to call my own, at least for now, it's amazing."
Really amazing would be getting 60 goals.
"He has a chance," captain Vinny Lecavalier said.
"I'm not going to talk about it," Malone said, trying to avoid a jinx. "I'll let you know when the season is over."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Malone 19, 15:37. Penalties—Clitsome, Wpg (hooking), 6:35; Wyman, TB (holding), 12:22; Wallace, TB (roughing), 16:35; Enstrom, Wpg (hooking), 16:50.
Second Period—2, Winnipeg, Miettinen 5 (Kane, Stuart), 6:20. 3, Winnipeg, Wellwood 18 (Byfuglien, Stapleton), 9:28. Penalties—Kane, Wpg (elbowing), 2:07; Hainsey, Wpg (cross-checking), 12:21.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Malone 20 (Purcell, Hedman), 7:25 (pp). Penalties—Hainsey, Wpg, major (fighting), :44; Malone, TB, major (fighting), :44; Byfuglien, Wpg (hooking), 2:47; Slater, Wpg (high-sticking), 4:36; Little, Wpg (hooking), 6:19; Wyman, TB (high-sticking), 8:05; Ladd, Wpg, served by Stapleton, minor-major-misconduct (roughing, fighting), 8:29; Wheeler, Wpg (slashing), 8:29; Brewer, TB (slashing), 8:29; Hedman, TB, major-misconduct (fighting), 8:29.
Overtime—5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 56 (Lee), :45. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Winnipeg 12-9-7-0—28. Tampa Bay 7-10-21-1—39. Power-play opportunities—Winnipeg 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 7. Goalies—Winnipeg, Pavelec 28-28-8 (39 shots-36 saves). Tampa Bay, Caron 1-0-0 (28-26). A—19,204 (19,204). T—2:39. Referees—Chris Rooney, Ian Walsh. Linesmen—Jonny Murray, Derek Amell.