In the final game of the 2009-10 season, he’ll take aim at the franchise record for goals scored.
Stamkos and the Lightning close another disappointing campaign against the Florida Panthers on Sunday at BankAtlantic Center.
The Lightning (33-36-12) are out of the playoffs for a third straight season, but will finish with their highest point total since recording 93 in 2006-07.
Still, Stamkos showed the future may continue to get brighter for Tampa Bay. With two goals in a 4-3 shootout win over Florida (32-36-13) on Saturday he became the third-youngest player to score 50 in a season.
“It’s going to take a couple of days to sink in,” Stamkos told the Lightning’s official Web site. “They can never take that away from me. It was definitely a big moment in my career and hopefully there will be a lot more.”
At 20 years, 2 months and 3 days, only Wayne Gretzky (19 years, 2 months) and Jimmy Carson had 50-goal seasons earlier than Stamkos - the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
As a rookie, Stamkos got off to a very slow start before heating up late to finish with 23 goals. Coach Rick Tocchet said he’s seen much better things this season.
“I don’t want to put pressure on him, the one thing I think is that he’s emerging as a leader,” Tocchet said. “He expects this of himself. That’s what I like about him, that he is willing to do the work.’
Stamkos, who also had the only shootout goal Saturday, is within reach of Vincent Lecavalier’s(notes) single-season franchise mark of 52 goals set three years ago. Stamkos has five goals in the last five games.
“In between the second and third, Vinny came up to me and said, ‘Welcome to the club,’” said Stamkos, who has four goals and two assists against the Panthers this season. “That was pretty special to be able to hear that.”
Stamkos helped the Lightning snap a three-game losing streak against Florida. He was helped out by Antero Niittymaki(notes), who made 29 saves and didn’t allow a goal in the shootout after giving up a tying score to Nathan Horton(notes) midway through the third period.
Florida dropped to 2-5-2 in its last nine games as it failed to build off Thursday’s 3-2 win over Atlantic Division champion New Jersey.
The Panthers, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 1999-2000, have won 15 of their last 20 at home against the Lightning, and have taken away at least one point in the last six.