TAMPA, Fla. — In his 945th career hockey game, Steven Stamkos became the 95th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.
Stamkos entered his 15th year in the league with plenty of milestones to reach. He tallied 500 assists a couple of weeks ago and he will reach 500 goals soon enough (sitting at 494). The anticipation leading up to 1,000 career points was high going into Thursday night's game against Philadelphia.
"He is of the best captains out there," Brandon Hagel said before the game. "I hope he can make it happen and good luck to him.”
Had Stamkos not reached the big 1,000 Thursday, he also had the ability to accomplish the feat in front of the hometown crowd against his hometown team in the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But the storyline in Philadelphia is a pretty good one, too.
John Tortorella is the head coach of the Flyers and if he did not lead the Lightning to a last place finish before his departure in 2008, the Bolts would have never been gifted the opportunity to draft Stamkos No. 1 overall.
This is also a big night for Pierre-Édouard Bellemare who will play the most games for any French National in the NHL. Bellemare played 12 seasons overseas before reaching Philadelphia at 29 years old. He played his first three years with the Flyers before heading to Las Vegas, Colorado and Tampa Bay.
"He’s phenomenal with our young guys, old guys, he has a magnetic personality and it shows on the ice," head coach Jon Cooper said. "He may not be scoring 40 every year but he is probably preventing 40."
Bellemare said, "I thought I was not going to pay attention and care about it but, actually, I'm pretty proud of it for our country and we are not a lot of guys who get the privilege to play in this league so I’m really proud."
Puck drops at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia. The Bolts have a six-game homestand after this contest. The Lightning are currently tied with Detroit for 3rd place in the Atlantic Division at 27 points.