Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos ties for second in league in goals

PITTSBURGH — Steven Stamkos said he is doing his best not to think about the goal-scoring race and perhaps reaching 50. But coach Rick Tocchet believed the Lightning center, whose 46 goals are tied for second in the league with Washington's Alex Ovechkin, one behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, is pressing.

"He's trying to be too fine," Tocchet said before Wednesday's game. "He's not getting the shot where he's hitting the net."

Which is why Tocchet reunited Stamkos with LW Marty St. Louis, who had been playing with C Vinny Lecavalier.

"Maybe that will help him," Tocchet said.

It certainly didn't hurt on Stamkos' first-period goal, his league-best 21st on the power play, on a one-timer off a perfect cross-ice pass from St. Louis.

Tocchet also liked the way Stamkos, who entered the game with three goals in 10 games, shot the puck.

"His whole swing mode," Tocchet said. "When you want to score, sometimes you try too hard; an excellent shot."

Stamkos, though, didn't necessarily buy into the notion he was being too fine with his shots.

"I'm going to try to shoot the puck as hard as I can every time," he said. "I got good wood on it."

HEDMAN OUT, LASHOFF UP: Victor Hedman is day-to-day with a hip-flexor injury sustained against the Blue Jackets. He is the fourth defenseman injured, including Matt Smaby (back spasms), Matt Walker (lower body) and David Hale (ankle).

Matt Lashoff is up from AHL Norfolk to give the Lightning a sixth defenseman. Acquired last season from the Bruins in the Mark Recchi deal, Lashoff, 23, had six goals, 23 points and 94 penalty minutes this season in 66 games for the Admirals.

LASHOFF OUT: Lashoff said his first-period hit from behind on former Lightning Ruslan Fedotenko that got him tossed from the game was circumstance, not design.

"It wasn't my intention to hit him from behind," Lashoff said. "When I was going in for the hit, we were shoulder to shoulder, and he turned at the last second to spin out of it. Whatever happened after that happened.

"Obviously, you never want to hurt anybody."

Tocchet said he had no problem with Lashoff's aggressiveness: "I can't blame him. He went to hit the guy, and the guy was turning. I would never give a guy (flak) for that. It's just an unfortunate situation for him."

SMITH, FINALLY: G Mike Smith earned his first victory since Jan. 8, going 0-5-1 in 10 appearances since. "It's a big confidence boost," he said. "I've been playing these games with minimal confidence at best."

MALONE SITS: LW Ryan Malone skated but missed his 11th straight game since arthroscopic surgery cleaned up cartilage in his left knee. The Pittsburgh native and former Penguins star also missed a last chance to play at Mellon Arena, the team's longtime home that will be torn down after this season. "Obviously, I wish I was playing, but I think it's better just to rest everything right now and get back in shape," he said. "It's just unfortunate."

ODDS AND ENDS: Pittsburgh was without injured W Evgeni Malkin and ill D Sergei Gonchar. … The Lightning is 12-16-2 with three ties at Mellon Arena. … RW Teddy Purcell was scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos ties for second in league in goals 03/31/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 5:46pm]

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