SPORTS

Canadiens Pacioretty says Bolts captain Stamkos' scoring slump only temporary

04/30/2015 06:11 EDT | Updated 08/09/2015 01:59 EDT
BROSSARD, Que. - Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty isn't buying any criticism of Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos has taken heat for not scoring in his team's seven-game series win over Detroit in the opening round of NHL playoffs. The victory put Tampa Bay into the second round against the Canadiens, with the opening game scheduled for Friday night.

"He and Ovi (Washington's Alex Ovechkin) are the best scorers in the world," Pacioretty said. "He'll find the back of the net and then he's going to score three games in a row. It's what happens.

"Maybe with so much social media, it gets blown out of proportion. I watched that game (Wednesday) night and he was one of the best players on the ice. At the end of the day, people can pull up NHL.com and see he doesn't have a goal in the series, but their team won and he's a team player. That's all he cares about."

Pacioretty was under the gun a year ago when, coming off a 39-goal regular season, he scored only once through Montreal's first nine playoff games. Then he scored in the final two games against Boston and added two more against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final.

He said statistics take a back seat to winning in the post-season.

"In the playoffs, there are no cookie monsters out there," he said. "You're not trying to get that stat in the G column.

"It's frustrating to hear people talk about (Stamkos) like that. I watched and he's doing everything right. He's just not scoring goals. That's when all the people come out, the experts, and say he's got to do this and that. But who knows how to score goals better than him? Not too many people in the world.

"So it's only a matter of time. Hopefully, we can keep playing him hard like Detroit did, but he's playing good hockey. We can't expect him to not play his best."

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