The Lightning were already aware that they would not be joining the early summer party that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year as they flew into Winnipeg for Saturday night’s game. So did the Winnipeg Jets, who were in fact eliminated from contention a week earlier with an OT victory back in Tampa Bay. This time though, the two teams would meet in Winnipeg Saturday night (4/7) for the last game of the regular season. The only real storyline for this game was the fact that Stamkos was stuck on 59 goals in the last game of the year.
However, it seemed like Teddy Purcell would swoop in and steal the show from Stammer. Purcell opened the scoring for the Lightning with just under 3 minutes left in the first period and then scored again just a minute into the second period to give the Bolts a 2-0 lead over the Jets. Jets’ forward Antropov scored about 8 minutes later to cut the lead in half at 2-1. Three and a half minutes into the third period, Stamkos watched the puck get shot into the offensive zone. Stamkos went into the zone as the late man and cut into the slot. Marty St. Louis found Stammer wide open. Stamkos sniped the shot over the glove of Pavelec for the 3rd Lightning goal of the night, and his 60th of the year. Stamkos joins a list of 19 other players to score 60 in one season, a list that includes name such as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. The crowd paid Stamkos respect with a standing ovation. However, the focus quickly returned to a two goal deficit for the Jets. 90 seconds later, Jim Slater answered for a goal, cutting the lead once again to one. With the crowd roaring and under a minute left to play in the game, Slater scored again, tying the game at 3 goals apiece. The crowd erupted in cheers and the game went into overtime. There wasn’t much extra time required to decide this game however. Teddy scored the game winner in OT, earning him a hat trick and the team a win in a season that involved many struggles for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of course, not be lost in the excitement of a win, was Stammer’s 60th goal of the season. Purcell’s hat trick was the icing on the cake, and makes the end of the season a little less painful for Lightning fans who have, no doubt, struggled watching the team’s ups and downs this season.
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