What it means to Lightning to have Steven Stamkos for playoff run

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TAMPA — Steven Stamkos played a magical 2:47 last postseason, scoring a goal on his only shot during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Dallas Stars before leaving with an injury.

While last season’s Stanley Cup run would be hard to top for the captain — who in his 12th season won his first championship — this postseason might be even more special.

Stamkos has played in all 18 games this postseason, accumulating seven goals and 10 assists. He’s tied for third in the league in scoring with Alex Killorn (17), trailing only Nikita Kucherov (27) and Brayden Point (20).

“As a player you want to be on the ice helping your teammates win, and that’s the best feeling,” Stamkos said. “... For me as a player, you want to help out any way you can. Last year was a small part, this year a little bit of a bigger part, but as long as you are a part of that group, that’s all you can ask for as an athlete.”

Stamkos’ teammates have enjoyed having him back on the ice, too.

Killorn said having Stamkos around all of the time this postseason — on the ice and in the locker room — “has been really helpful.”

Stamkos’ presence on the power play has given the Lightning yet another dangerous scoring option. He has four goals and seven assists on the top unit, where he joins Killorn, Kucherov, Point and Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman.

Point said the importance of Stamkos’ leadership can’t be overstated. He served a different role last season, bringing an off-ice perspective in the Canadian bubbles. But having him on the ice this time around has given the team a huge lift.

“Just to have him out there, obviously a great player, one of our best guys, and he’s done so well this playoffs,” Point said. “And he competes hard, and it’s great to have him back.”

Yanni Gourde echoed those sentiments, saying Stamkos’ one period of play last year was “a huge boost” for the team, but his presence this year has helped make this Cup run even more special.

“His leadership is just great,” Gourde said. “And the way he plays the game, he brings the team together, and the way he does everything every single night, doing the right thing, shooting the puck, just gives us a lift and it’s phenomenal to have him with us during this playoff.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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