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Steven Stamkos inches closer to 500 goals in Lightning win

The Tampa Bay captain scores his 499th career goal in the third period of a victory over the Canucks.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates as he scores his 499th career goal, beating Vancouver Canucks goaltender Collin Delia (60) in the third period of Thursday's game at Amalie Arena.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates as he scores his 499th career goal, beating Vancouver Canucks goaltender Collin Delia (60) in the third period of Thursday's game at Amalie Arena. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jan. 13|Updated Jan. 13

TAMPA — Steven Stamkos heard the chants and saw the looks. After scoring his 499th career goal Thursday night with a solid lead and over 14 minutes to play against the Canucks, the crowd at Amalie Arena wanted one more from him.

Even his Lightning teammates were trying to get him to 500, feeding him the puck to try to get the milestone goal at home in front of his family and fans.

Instead, the Lightning had to settle for a 5-4 win in their final home game before a five-game road trip. It was the NHL-leading 13th comeback win this season for Tampa Bay (26-13-1) and ninth straight win at home, the longest active streak in the NHL.

Forward Brandon Hagel scored his fourth goal in eight games and finished with two points for the Lightning. Forward Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist, and became the third NHL player to reach 60 points this season, finishing the night with 61. Forward Brayden Point had his nine-game home-ice goal streak snapped but had two assists.

Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, playing in his 400th career game, recorded an assist on the Lightning’s first goal, his 30th point of the season. This is his sixth season with at least 30 points, second in franchise history among defenseman behind Victor Hedman.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves, including an incredible pad stop at the buzzer as the Canucks furiously tried to tie the score and send the game to overtime.

But still, all the crowd and the team were thinking about was Stamkos being one goal away from a rare accomplishment.

“That was cool,” Stamkos said of the crowd acknowledging his goal and calling for one more. “Obviously, it would have been nice to do it at home and in front of the crowd, but we’ll see what happens on this road trip.

“But again, it’s something that’s not something that’s keeping me up at night It’s like I’ve been preaching the whole time, when it’s time to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Even as the Lightning’s seemingly commanding 5-2 lead dwindled in the game’s last six minutes, Lightning partisans were pulling for Stamkos to become the third active player and 47th overall to reach 500 goals.

Stamkos connected on a 5-on-3 power play from the left circle on a pass from Point 5:30 into the third period. He had other chances, including on a power play late in the period.

“We had that power play at the end, and he actually had a couple of good looks,” coach Jon Cooper said. “He’s been in the league 15 years, so 15 years of anticipation of getting a 500th goal. So it’s a pretty exciting time. But I’m sure it can be a little stressful, too. Because you want to get it over with, but eventually it will come.

“When he gets it done, we’ll reflect back and be like, ‘Wow, that’s a heck of a lot of goals.’ But hopefully it will come soon.”

Stamkos’ goal capped a solid comeback for the Lightning, who came out sluggish and found themselves behind early.

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Forward Conor Garland scored 4:14 into the game to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. Forward Corey Perry scored his first goal in 12 games to tie it with four seconds left in the Lightning’s first power play of the night.

Forward Alex Killorn gave Tampa Bay a lead with a spin-around goal to open the second period. Former Lightning forward J.T. Miller tied it for the Canucks on a power play 5:44 into the second before Kucherov and Hagel scored in the period to give the Lightning some distance.

Stamkos’ goal was their last of the night and turned out to be the winner.

Defenseman Quinn Hughes and forward Elias Pettersson scored in the furious final minutes for Vancouver. The Lightning were looking for Stamkos to make his big moment happen.

“I just don’t want guys to feel obligated to force the puck,” he said. “That’s the tendency. It’s human nature. It’s something you do when guys are close to milestones like that. And that’s where you try to get it out of the way as quick as possible so everyone, including myself, can enjoy the moment. But you just want guys making the right plays instead of overthinking out there.

“But definitely appreciate the looks I got.”

Clarification

The Lightning’s win over the Canucks on Thursday was their ninth straight win at home, the longest active streak in the NHL. An earlier version of this story was missing the word “active.”

Contact Kristie Ackert at kackert@tampabay.com.

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