TAMPA, Florida – Steven Stamkos’ 11-month wait for a goal is over.
Stamkos scored his first goal since having right knee surgery last November and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on Thursday night.
“I knew it was a matter of time, so I wasn’t losing any sleep over it,” Stamkos said. “I’m just happy to be playing hockey again. Glad to be a part of some wins here.”
Stamkos made it 3-1 with a power-play goal at 3:49 of the second period from the low left circle. The Lightning star previously scored Nov. 15 at Detroit, the same game that he had a season-ending lateral meniscus tear in the knee.
Stamkos entered with five assists in three games this season. He tied Vincent Lecavalier for the Tampa Bay team record with 112 power-play goals.
“You see him getting stronger and stronger,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Slater Koekkoek got his first two NHL goals, and Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay, which has won three of four. Alex Killorn had four assists, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves.
Pittsburgh got goals from Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust and Matt Hunwick. Antti Niemi, who allowed four goals on 13 shots over 9:16 against Chicago on Oct. 5 in his Penguins debut, stopped 29 shots.
“It’s not fun to give up five goals and lose a game, but there was lots of good things,” Niemi said.
After Stamkos’ score, Sheary and Kucherov traded goals in the second. Rust scored on the power play to cut the deficit to 4-3 with 5:36 to go in the period.
Koekkoek got his first goal, coming in his 43rd game, 6:07 into the first. His second extended the lead to 5-3 late in the second.
“We don’t want to be a team that trades chance for chance,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ve got to be a team that controls territory and momentum.”
Wild 5, Blackhawks 2
In Chicago, Chris Stewart broke a tie midway through the third period with the first of his two goals and Minnesota beat the Blackhawks for its first victory of the season.
Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist, and Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves to help the Wild (1-1-1) hand Chicago (3-1-1) its first regulation loss.
Panthers 5, Blues 2
In Sunrise, Florida, Roberto Luongo moved into a tie for fourth on the NHL career victory list with 454, making 37 saves to help the Panthers defeat St. Louis.
The 38-year-old Luongo is tied with Curtis Joseph on the career list.
Predators 4, Stars 1
In Nashville, Samuel Girard scored his first NHL goal and had an assist to lead the Predators past Dallas.
The 19-year-old Girard was playing his second NHL game.
Red Wings 4, Coyotes 2
In Glendale, Arizona, Luke Glendening broke a tie with a short-handed goal with 3:24 left and Detroit beat the winless Coyotes.
Jets 4, Canucks 2
In Vancouver, Patrik Laine and Tyler Myers scored 3:13 apart late in the second period to help Winnipeg triumph over the hosts.
Sharks 3, Sabres 2
In San Jose, Timo Meier tallied late in the second period, lifting the Sharks over Jason Pominville and Buffalo.