TAMPA — Lightning C Tyler Johnson said he was not aware his 21 goals are two short of Steven Stamkos' team rookie record.
And even so, Johnson said, "He was 18 (years old) when he did that feat, right? And if I'm not mistaken, he got 60 when he was 20 or 21. I'm just trying to help the team out and have as good a year as I possibly can."
Johnson, 23, is having the kind of season — 21 goals, 42 points, plus-16 with an average 18:58 of ice time — that should get him rookie of the year votes.
While Stamkos was out four months with a broken right tibia, Johnson centered the first line with wings Marty St. Louis and fellow rookie Ondrej Palat. With Stamkos back in the lineup, Johnson is on Stamkos' right wing.
Coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos' injury, in a way, propelled Johnson because he got opportunities he might not have had otherwise. Still, Cooper said, "He deserved all 21 (goals) and however many more he's going to get."
"He's gotten better as the season has gone on," Stamkos said. "He's a smart player and utilizes his speed. He's been good for us in all aspects of the game."
SHORTIES: The Lightning's team-record nine short-handed goals entered Saturday third in the league. That is especially impressive considering Tampa Bay had zero shorties last season and five over the previous four seasons combined.
"We've been putting pressure on teams," said Cooper, who before the season made short-handed goals a point of emphasis. "We're big believers in you can put a power play on the defensive when you have the puck. We've done a good job not necessarily getting pucks 200 feet but trying to make a play."
Especially good at that have been Johnson, whose four short-handed goals entered Saturday tied for the league lead, and D Victor Hedman, whose five short-handed assists were tops.
"If we have full control (of the puck) and a little bit of time, that's when we try to make a play and make something happen," Johnson said. "It's not something you necessarily look for. The key thing is to just kill off the penalty. Anything more is just a plus."
ON FIRE: D Mike Kostka had two career goals in 44 NHL games when he was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay. His goal Saturday in the 3-0 win over the Devils gave him two goals in seven games with the Lightning.
IN THE GAME: After sitting for four straight games as healthy scratches, LW Ryan Malone and RW B.J. Crombeen played against New Jersey.
Malone had two shots and was plus-1 in 10:06 of ice time. Crombeen scored his third goal of the season on a deflection of Kostka's shot.
"The big side of things is they played well in their own end," Cooper said.
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning is 0-for-3 on penalty shots this season and 10-for-48 in franchise history after J.T. Brown was stopped by Martin Brodeur. … Tampa Bay's previous record of eight short-handed goals was set in the 2003-04 Stanley Cup season. … C Valtteri Filppula has six assists in his past three games. … Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio and forwards Nikita Kucherov and Richard Panik were scratched.