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Steven Stamkos leads Lightning to win over Avalanche

Stamkos had his 13th career game with four or more points, and he wasn't even the one expected to shine in this matchup of high-scoring stars.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91), left, beats Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov (1) as Stamkos watches the puck head to the back of the net for his second goal of the first period Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Tampa. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91), left, beats Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov (1) as Stamkos watches the puck head to the back of the net for his second goal of the first period Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Tampa. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Dec. 9, 2018
Updated Dec. 9, 2018

TAMPA — Four of the league's top six scorers shared the same sheet of ice Saturday night at Amalie Arena. But none of them was the star in the Lightning's 7-1 win over the Avalanche.

Avalanche forwards Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon went into the game Nos. 1 and 2 in scoring. The Lightning's Nikita Kucherov was No. 3 and Brayden Point No. 6.

Steven Stamkos was 47th. And yet, he was the one with big night, with two goals and four points.

Lightning All Eyes: Check out photos from the Lightning's win over Colorado.

It was 13th time Stamkos recorded four or more points in a game, the most in Lightning history. Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis are second with 10.

Coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos played a great game but it was hard to single him out because the whole team played that way.

"(Stamkos is) a skilled scorer, so you give him opportunities like he got on the power play (for his first goal) and breakaway. 'Stammer' usually finishes those," Cooper said.

Stamkos started the Lightning off, scoring the game's first two goals, his 11th and 12th of the season.

Kucherov set up the first goal three minutes in with Colorado's Tyson Jost in the box for hooking Braydon Coburn.

Kucherov was in his sweet spot, the right dot, and sent a no-look pass to Stamkos, who was all alone in the opposite circle. Stamkos one-timed the shot into an open net.

Stamkos struck again 10 minutes later, picking up a fumbled Avalanche pass at the defensive blue line and skating in on goalie Semyon Varlamov in a breakaway. He made a slight move on the forehand, then switched to the backhand and tucked the puck around Varlamov's skate.

"You just make reads out there," Stamkos said. "On the breakaway, I did notice (Varlamov) came out pretty far, so I faked a shot, and it was nice to see it go in."

Stamkos set up two goals in the second period. He started a sequence of nice passes, sending the puck to Yanni Gourde even as he went to the ice. Gourde then passed to Alex Killorn, who beat Varlamov with a wrist shot, giving the Lightning a 4-1 lead two minutes into the period.

A few minutes later, Stamkos picked the puck up off the boards high in the zone and drew everyone to him as he backtracked to the blue line. As everyone followed him up high, Stamkos found Ondrej Palat at the far dot. Palat wristed a shot past Varlamov for his first goal of the season and a 5-1 lead.

Stamkos was one of three Lightning players with multipoint games. Palat had two goals, and Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist. Tampa Bay had five goal scorers on the night.

"I think the urgency is there, for sure, when you're playing a team like that," Johnson said. "Our team relies so much on our depth. When you see all four lines rolling, you see the six D going out there, you see our goaltender, it's just next man up."

Johnson scored late in the first period on a rebound for a 3-1 lead. Dan Girardi took the initial shot from the point, and Point tipped it in the slot. Johnson was there to bang home the rebound.

After the goals by Killorn and Palat in the second period, Anthony Cirelli got on the board, also off a rebound. Again it was a defenseman with the first shot, this Coburn pinching low along the boards. The puck bounced off goalie Philipp Grubauer's chest (Grubauer replaced Varlamov after Palat's goal) and landed right in front of Cirelli, who flipped it in for a 6-1 lead in the second.

Palat added his second early in the third period. Johnson passed the puck through the crease, post to post, and Palat one-timed the shot past Grubauer.

Lightning 3-3-1–7

Avalanche 1-0-0–1

First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 11 (Hedman, Kucherov), 3:05 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 12, 13:15. 3, Colorado, MacKinnon 20 (Rantanen, Landeskog), 14:14. 4, Tampa Bay, T.Johnson 12 (Girardi, Point), 16:26. Penalties—Jost, COL, (hooking), 2:28 Gourde, TB, (tripping), 5:12 Zadorov, COL, (tripping), 17:00.

Second Period—5, Tampa Bay, Killorn 6 (Stamkos, Gourde), 2:00. 6, Tampa Bay, Palat 1 (Stamkos, Sergachev), 7:59. 7, Tampa Bay, Cirelli 6 (Coburn), 10:01. Penalties—Stamkos, TB, (illegal check to head), 14:25.

Third Period—8, Tampa Bay, Palat 2 (T.Johnson, Miller), 3:29 (pp). Penalties—Zadorov, COL, (tripping), 2:41 Compher, COL, (roughing), 5:45; Paquette, TB, (roughing), 5:45.

Shots on Goal—Colorado 8-11-11_30. Tampa Bay 13-15-10_38. Power-play opportunities—Colorado 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 2 of 3. Goalies—Colorado, Grubauer 7-1-2 (15 shots-13 saves), Varlamov 10-7-3 (23-18). Tampa Bay, Domingue 13-4-0 (30-29). A—19,092 (19,092). T—2:31. Referees—Eric Furlatt, Justin St Pierre. Linesmen—Shandor Alphonso, Tim Nowak.