The Tampa Bay Lightning strengthened their hold on the top spot in the Eastern Conference — and in the NHL — on Saturday afternoon thanks to a wild 7-6 win shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers in a game that saw them overcome a pair of two-goal deficits.
As is the case with any game that has 12 total goals in regulation there were plenty of big individual performances.
Nikita Kucherov added to his lead in the scoring race with three assists, while defenseman Victor Hedman tallied four points. New acquisition J.T. Miller also tallied his first goal as a member of the Lightning in the win.
All of those players took a backseat to the real star of the game for Tampa Bay on Saturday, team captain Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos scored a pair of goals, assisted on three more, recorded seven shots on goal, and then just for good measure scored the game-winning goal in the shootout.
From just a statistical standpoint it was one of the most dominant games any player has had in the NHL this season.
Just consider: It is only the third time this season that a player has recorded at least five points and seven shots on goal in a single game.
It is only the eighth time it has happened in a game since the start of the 2012-13 season.
With that performance Stamkos jumped into a tie (as of this posting) for third place in the NHL scoring race with McDavid. Both players have 77 points. With that Stamkos is back on pace for what could be one of his most productive seasons in the NHL.
After Saturday’s performance he is now back on a 95-point pace over 82 games, a mark that equal the second best single season performance of his career.
This season has also served as a reminder as to how great Stamkos is as an offensive force when he is healthy.
So much of his prime seasons have been derailed due to injury, or as the case was in 2012-13, a lockout. This season is only the third time since 2012-13 he has played in more than 60 games in a season.
The Lightning missed the playoffs by just a single point last season after getting Stamkos for only 17 games before his season came to an end due to a leg injury. With him back healthy they have been the best team in the NHL since pretty much the start of the season. Combined with Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Hedman, Vasilevskiy, and recent additions Miller and Ryan McDonagh the Lightning have what might be the best team in the league on paper and on the ice.
Meanwhile, for Philadelphia, the point they gained by losing in a shootout moves them into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division (pending the result of the Washington Capitals’ game on Saturday night).
The Flyers are now 25-9-4 since the end of their 10-game losing streak earlier this season.