It took time, but Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos hit 500 goals in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks late Wednesday night.
Goal 500 kicked off a four-goal first period for the team. The period also included goal 501 and tallies from two other stars, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point.
Assisted by Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli, it was a goal to remember for Stamkos and the entire Bolts team, who spilled over the boards to congratulate their captain. Corey Perry even made sure to collect the puck for Stamkos.
With the goal, Stamkos becomes the 47th player in NHL history to score 500 and only the 19th to do it in less than 1,000 games played. He joins Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin as the only active players to reach the 500-goal plateau.
He joined a list of Hall of Fame players that includes Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky by recording a hat trick in the same game he scored number 500 with an empty netter late.
In a moment of sheer classiness, Canucks fans gave Stamkos a standing ovation for reaching this milestone.
The first overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, Stamkos was known as a goal scorer. He earned a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy in his second season with 52 goals. A few years later, he reached the rare 60-goal plateau in a season.
Unfortunately, injuries cost him a lot of playing time and forced him to change his game a little. He learned to play a 200-foot game, got better in the face-off dot, and became more of a set-up guy, setting up his teammates for goals while playing on the wing instead of his natural center position.
All of the sacrifices proved worthwhile, as Stamkos captained the Lightning to three straight Stanley Cup Finals and four in the last ten years. They won back-to-back Cups in 2020 and 2021, with Stamkos providing a pivotal goal in Game 3 of the 2020 Cup Final versus the Dallas Stars.
Stamkos has 21 goals, and 31 assists for 52 points through 43 games played this season.
Currently sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division, they look to be on track for another playoff spot. Their captain has been a big part of the team’s success in recent years and so far this season.
As a player I’ve idolized since he first put on a Lightning sweater nearly 14 years ago, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Steven Stamkos on hitting 500 career goals. Here’s to many more in the games and years to come!