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Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos hits road on a hot streak

MONTREAL — For Steven Stamkos, 40 goals was supposed to be an end point, a milestone set for himself before the season.

As it turns out, it might just be a stepping stone to 50.

"It's definitely reachable, the way things are going," said the Lightning center, who notched his 40th on Saturday against the Thrashers and, with 18 games left, is on pace for 51.

"It's definitely in the back of my mind. It would be special."

This already is a special time for the 20-year-old, arguably the league's hottest player.

His 16-game points streak, with 15 goals and 14 assists, is the NHL's longest active. He was named the second star for the week ending Sunday with five goals, six points in three games, and he is seventh in the league with 76 points and tied for the lead with 16 power-play goals.

Not a bad way to return home to Toronto, where on Thursday the Lightning faces the Maple Leafs. The media coverage will be intense, though it may not be much less for tonight's game with the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

Stamkos, who dealt with reporters well before he reached the NHL, is well-equipped to handle the pressure. Still, coach Rick Tocchet said he reminded his young star that "he's got to stay grounded and not be complacent."

Not that he's worried.

"This streak that he's on shows he's mature," Tocchet said. "He's not full of himself. His professionalism is something he's picked up a lot quicker than most 19- and 20-year-olds."

"I think that's kind of how you're raised," Stamkos said. "My parents did a pretty good job of grinding into my head to not let things get to you, positive or negative. It's important to keep level-headed and not take anything for granted. If you accept things, you're in for a rude awakening."

The same pitfall awaits those who focus too much on self, said Stamkos' father, Chris. That is why he and his son rarely talk about goals and never did while Stamkos was making his name in the Toronto suburb of Unionville, Ontario.

"We didn't know how many goals he had growing up," Chris said. "You can have that success, but as long as the team is doing well, that's my philosophy."

Stamkos' most potent weapon is a wicked shot that, whether slapped or wristed, is pinpoint, especially on the short side.

"That shot," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "It's not everybody in the league that has a shot like that."

Just as important, but under the radar, Tocchet said, is Stamkos' positioning; that is, being in the right place to retrieve pucks on defense and receive them on offense.

"He just does everything right," Tocchet said. "He's a pleasure to coach."

"It's definitely nice doing well," Stamkos said. "Heading back to Canada, and especially Toronto, it definitely makes it easier. But I'm not really focused on that part. It's more important for me to focus on the team."

If 50 goals happen, they happen.

"It's not something I worry too much about," Stamkos said. "But it has crept into the equation."

MARTY UPDATE: Marty St. Louis, who entered Monday fourth in the league with 78 points, sat out practice for what the team called "body maintenance." The left wing bashed his head against the end boards when hit, without the puck, by Clarke MacArthur on Saturday.

Stamkos said as far as he knows, "and from being around Marty, he'll be in the lineup."

Caps' home streak ends

WASHINGTON — Marty Turco made 49 saves and the Stars scored three times in six shots early in the third period, ending the Capitals' club-record home winning streak at 13 games with a 4-3 shootout victory Monday.

Savard update: Bruins center Marc Savard has a grade two concussion after a blindside hit by the Penguins' Matt Cooke on Sunday. Savard will continue to be evaluated for as long as five days.

Stars 0 0 3 0 4
at Capitals 1 1 1 0 3
Stars win shootout 2-1

First Period1, Washington, Poti 4 (Steckel, Bradley), 2:51. PenaltiesNone.

Second Period2, Washington, Ovechkin 43 (Semin, Backstrom), 14:37 (pp). PenaltiesSkrastins, Dal (hooking), 12:17; Robidas, Dal (delay of game), 12:52; Ott, Dal (interference), 17:09.

Third Period3, Dallas, Richards 18 (Niskanen, Ribeiro), 1:33 (pp). 4, Dallas, Daley 4 (Richards, Eriksson), 4:46 (pp). 5, Dallas, Neal 25 (Lehtinen, Robidas), 7:53. 6, Washington, Ovechkin 44 (Backstrom, Green), 16:44. PenaltiesGreen, Was (hooking), 1:02; Bradley, Was (holding), 3:45.

OvertimeNone. PenaltiesNone.

ShootoutDallas 2 (Benn NG, Richards G, Neal NG, Ribeiro NG, Eriksson G), Washington 1 (Ovechkin NG, Backstrom G, Semin NG, Laich NG, Morrison NG). Shots on GoalDallas 5-11-10-0—26. Washington 19-23-7-3—52. Power-play opportunitiesDallas 2 of 2; Washington 1 of 3. GoaliesDallas, Turco 20-17-9 (52 shots-49 saves). Washington, Varlamov 13-2-3 (26-23). A18,277 (18,277). T2:37.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos hits road on a hot streak 03/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 8, 2010 11:18pm]

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