Lightning's Steven Stamkos scores 500th career goal, gets hat trick

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored his 500th career goal in the first period against the Vancouver Canucks and finished with a hat trick in the 5-2 win on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old center took a slick pass from Alex Killorn and put a backdoor tap in past goalie Spencer Martin to open the scoring 4:40 into the period.

Players poured out of the Lightning bench and mobbed Stamkos in the corner as the crowd cheered.

"It's such a humbling experience when you have a moment like that and you get to celebrate it with your teammates, who are genuinely just as excited as you are. I'm so thankful for them," Stamkos said. "Obviously this is an individual statistic, but it takes so many different players along the way that have helped me get to that."

Stamkos also scored 14:35 into the first period and finished with an empty net goal with 1:22 left in the third period, his 21st goal this season.

He's the third active skater to score 500 goals, following Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

"That's a game that you're gonna remember for forever, so to do that and have that story to tell for years to come was pretty special," Stamkos said.

After the game, he spoke in the locker room and thanked his teammates for their help and support.

That was the moment that made Tampa coach Jon Cooper the most proud.

"I've just watched that kid grow into a man, a phenomenal leader, and to be honest, he's a generational goal scorer," Cooper said. "That's what he is and those guys don't come around that often. Enjoy him while you can and I've been extremely fortunate to enjoy him put that puck in the net hundreds of times. And it's good for him, well deserved."

Selected first overall by the Lightning in the 2008 draft, Stamkos has played all 15 seasons of his NHL career for Tampa Bay and amassed 1,022 points (500 goals, 522 assists) in 965 career games.

Stamkos is the 47th player to reach 500 career goals and the 19th to accomplish the feat before playing in 1,000 games, per ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Markham, Ontario, native won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the club in 2020 and 2021 and took the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer in 2010 and 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.