They played a good old fashioned 1980s style hockey game on Thursday in Philadelphia, an 8-7 contest won by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The star of the show was Tampa Bay's Steve Stamkos, who led the way with three goals and two assists. That brought the third-year player's goal total to a league-leading 19, in 19 games played.
It's been quite the leap in two years for the former No. 1 overall pick.
His rookie struggles were well documented. He struggled through the first half of his rookie season and was even a healthy scratch.
In a general sense, the all-star break of his rookie season serves as a demarcation. Putting probably too fine a point on it — which hockey geeks love to do — the jump from struggling rookie to emerging star could be marked Feb. 17, 2009.
Stamkos scored his first career hat trick on that date against Chicago. It was part of a 26-game span to end his first pro season that included 16 goals.
He's scored 70 goals in the 101 regular season games that have since followed. He shared the Rocket Richard Trophy as top goal scorer last year with Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby.
When you take his rate of production from that game against the Blackhawks until the present day, what you have is a 56-goal scorer over the course of a full NHL season.
Aside from the statistical anomaly that was Jonathan Cheechoo in the first season back from the lockout, only Alexander Ovechkin has consistently produced at that level over the past five seasons.
All goals count equally, but it's clear that Stamkos is making hay in an era where more than ever power-play prowess determines a team's offensive capabilities. He's helped in that regard by talented teammates like Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.
Stamkos has scored 46 per cent of his career goals with the man advantage. With 10 already this season, it's conceivable he could reach 30 power-play goals, accomplished by a fairly limited group of players and not since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96.
Does the power-play era dampen what he's done in any way?
Hardly. You could also argue that 50-goal seasons across eras aren't necessarily the same. Is John Ogrodnick's 55-goal season in the mid-80s heyday of offence, when the game was more freewheeling and goalie equipment was smaller, greater than the 51 put up by Stamkos in 2009-10?
Thursday's showing has inspired some fairly breathless wonderings — whether Stamkos can reach 50 in 50 games.
It hasn't even been a quarter of a season yet, folks. Let's wait at least until he hits the 25-game mark, which coincides with the end of November.
For the record, only eight men have reached 70 goals in a season.
More realistically, Stamkos, with good health, could have a shot at becoming just the third active player to hit 60 goals in a season, joining Ovechkin and Teemu Selanne. Only 19 players have ever reached that milestone.
The 19 games he has left in the calendar year will go a long way toward determining his season; Stamkos has yet to enjoy a prosperous December in his brief career.
The centre was nearly as hot to start off last season — 17 goals in the first 24 games. But he managed only four over the next 17 games, largely coinciding with the month of December.
The dip quite possibly knocked him out of the Canadian Olympic team list, and it's worth pointing out that the slump was in part precipitated by a nagging upper-body injury not serious enough to knock him out of the lineup.
So good so fast
The native of Markham, Ont., has 93 career goals, making it quite likely he'll reach three figures by his 21st birthday in early February.
Admittedly it's an arbitrary line — comparing in-season and off-season birthdays, some European snipers who didn't come over until their early 20s, etc. But in a general sense it helps drive the precocious point home.
Stamkos would hit the 100-goal mark at a younger age than all but a small number of players, such as Wayne Gretzky, Lemieux, Dale Hawerchuk, and Jimmy Carson. Crosby, limited by injuries in his third season, was at 99 at that age.
Because of his so-so rookie season, the best Stamkos could likely do with respect to goal total after the first three NHL seasons is crack the bottom of the Top 10.
There are seven players who scored at least 140 by that point. The list is topped by Gretzky at 198, and Ovechkin is the current era standard bearer with 163.
(Peter Stastny — who entered the NHL at 24 — had 132, while the likes of Teemu Selanne and Eric Lindros were hindered by the 1994-95 work stoppage).
On the current pace, Stamkos at the end of three seasons will likely be just ahead of Jari Kurri, Dino Ciccarelli and Joe Sakic at the same point in their careers.
All three are Top 20 all-time goal scorers.
Share your thoughts below. How many goals will Stamkos finish with this season? Who in your opinion was the most impressive young sniper ever in the NHL?