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Stamkos scores No. 60 as Lightning top Jets in overtime

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The Canadian Press
4/8/2012 1:11:47 AM
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WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets missed an opportunity to finish their first NHL season in 15 years on a high note, but they got a big sending off from their fans anyway.

Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal of the season and Teddy Purcell had a hat trick, including the overtime winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Jets 4-3 Saturday.

After the game, 15,004 fans gave the Jets a standing ovation as players hoisted their sticks in the air to acknowledge the support that gave Winnipeg a reputation of being one of the loudest NHL buildings.

Those same fans had also given Stamkos a standing ovation after Martin St. Louis sent a pass to the front of the net and Stamkos fired the puck over Ondrej Pavelec's glove at 3:29 of the third period.

"I didn't want to get off the ice," said Jim Slater, who scored his 12th and 13th goal of the season to finish with 21 points.

"Every fan stayed and I think it's more of us giving them the applause more than they are us."

The players had went to the dressing room after the final buzzer, but returned a few minutes later to give away their jerseys to fans who had won them in a draw during the game.

Slater wasn't surprised the crowd gave Stamkos a standing ovation for his rare feat.

"They're knowledgeable fans," Slater said. "They know how hard it is to get 60 goals in this league.

"Anyone that does that definitely deserves an ovation. I don't know if many other buildings would do it, but it was actually kind of good to see our fans do it."

Nik Antropov also scored for Winnipeg (37-35-10), while Pavelec made 21 saves in the loss.

Vincent Lecavalier added two assists for the Lightning (38-36-8). Dwayne Roloson made 28 stops for the win.

Stamkos praised Winnipeg's fans for the response to his goal, even though they had spent most of the game booing him.

"That made it even more special, to like I said do it in Canada and have them do an ovation like that it was amazing," Stamkos said.

He added it was also special to have St. Louis assist on the goal, as he had on Stamkos' 50th this season.

Just 19 players have scored 60 goals or more in a single season. The exclusive group includes players such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull.

Alex Ovechkin is the only player to score 60 since 1996. The Washington Capitals star had 65 goals in the 2007-08 season.

Purcell scored 1:08 into overtime when he took a pass from Victor Hedman and sent a high shot over Pavelec's glove.

With just 53 seconds left in the third, Slater scored his second goal of the night to send the game into overtime.

Blake Wheeler set up the tying goal when he sent a pass from the side of the net in front to Slater, who shot it over Roloson's stick.

Nik Antropov also scored for Winnipeg (37-35-10), while Pavelec made 21 saves in the loss.

Vincent Lecavalier added two assists for the Lightning (38-36-8). Roloson made 28 stops for the win.

"You want to finish on a high note ... but we came up short," Antropov said.

But that doesn't diminish the memories fans gave the players throughout the season.

"That's something that's over the top," Antropov said. "I expected it was going to be crazy, but not like this. It's so overwhelming. Nothing but positive things about that."

Purcell notched his first goal of the night at 17:49 of the first period. Lecavalier kicked the puck back during the faceoff and Purcell one-timed the pass into the net.

Tampa went up 2-0 at 1:12 of the second when Lecavalier sent a pass across the front of the net and Purcell flipped it over Pavelec.

Stamkos finished the season with 97 points in 82 games. Purcell wrapped up the season with 65 points in 81 games. Lecavalier's two assists gave him 22 goals and 49 points in 64 games.

Winnipeg made it 2-1 after Antti Miettinen spun around behind the back net and made a backhand pass to Antropov, who beat Roloson at 8:53 for his 15th goal of the season.

After Stamkos' goal, Slater closed the gap 3-2 at 4:59 when he slipped between two defenders and went in alone on Roloson, firing a low shot between his pads.

Noel congratulated Stamkos for his 60th goal and then praised Jets fans for giving him a standing ovation.

"He's a very good player," Noel said. "I'm very impressed with him and very impressed with the way our fans were respectful of him.

"I thought it was a really good moment for our fans and I thought it was a classy move on our part, from the fans' standpoint, and the ovation they gave him."

Tampa coach Guy Boucher said it's cliche, but Stamkos is one of those stars who never thinks of himself, only the team.

"It's not the goals," said Boucher. "He just never has enough of getting better."

Neither team scored on the power play, with Tampa going 0-for-3 and Winnipeg 0-for-2 with the man advantage.

Steven Stamkos (Photo: Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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