WINNIPEG - Steven Stamkos notched his 60th of the season to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a short-lived two-goal lead early in the third period.
Stamkos received a standing ovation from the fans at the MTS Centre for his accomplishment.
Teddy Purcell was the big scorer on the night, netting three including the game-winner in overtime.
His goal was followed by a slick move from Jim Slater as the Jets closed the gap to 3-2 with 15 minutes left in the third. Slater scored again with less than a minute left in the third to tie it at 3-3.
The Jets trailed the Lightning 2-1 after two periods in what will be the finale for both teams this year.
Tampa jumped to a 2-0 lead on two goals by Teddy Purcell, the first as he rifled home a shot over Ondrej Pavelec’s shoulder after Vincent Lecavalier cleanly won a face-off in the Jet end. The second came just 1:12 into the second period when he slipped in behind Dustin Byfuglien to tap home a crossing pass.
The Jets narrowed the gap to 2-1 when Nik Antropov took a perfect backhand feed from Antti Miettinen to beat Tampa’s Dwayne Roloson.
Prior to the game the Jets announced the winners of three team awards:
-Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy: Mark Stuart.
Awarded to the Jets player who ‘who embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.’
-The Staffmax Staffing & Recruiting Community Service Award: Jim Slater.
-The McDiarmid Lumber Three Stars Award: Ondrej Pavelec.
There will be no playoff encores and so the Winnipeg Jets are vowing to make their final act of the 2011-12 season a memorable one.
The Jets play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning at 6 p.m. at MTS Centre (6 p.m. CBC/TSN1290) tonight in what is the finale for both clubs.
“We want to finish it off the right way,” said Jet captain Andrew Ladd. “The fans have been great to us the whole year and to be able to repay them the favour by winning this last game and give them a strong effort would be a nice way to cap it off.
“There’s still that disappointment of not being in the playoffs and not playing for anything right now. You’re trying find ways to get motivated and the best way to put it is to play hard for each other and the fans and give them a good show.”
The Jets, 37-35-9, have a chance to finish with 85 points -- their highest point total since registering 97 in the 2006-07 season.
Winnipeg has lost three straight on home ice, but still sports a solid 23-13-4 home record. The club is planning some video salutes to the fans while Jet faithful have been taking to the media and social media as part of a grassroots campaign to start a ‘Thank-you, True North’ chant during the game.
“We’re going to try and play our best game tonight to thank the people of Winnipeg and the entire community for all their support this year,” said Blake Wheeler. “They’ve really pushed us, especially at home, to play at a different level. We owe it to ourselves and to this community to play our best game tonight and hopefully give them more reasons to be excited for next year.
“There’s been some pretty magical games here. When we beat Boston to knock them off their streak that was a really magical night and the last stretch when we were fighting for the playoffs and we beat Florida 7-0, that was a big night, when we beat Washington to put ourselves back in the race… there’s been a lot of great nights.
“Fortunately we were in the playoff discussion for a long time, it just wasn’t long enough.”
The Jets will be without Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Ron Hainsey and Eric Fehr tonight, all absent because of injury.
The one juicy story line for the Lightning is whether Steven Stamkos can hit the 60-goal mark. He is at 59.
“I just want us to play well and play hard for the fans and play for the right reasons for each other,” said coach Claude Noel. “The last couple of games have been a little bit difficult to coach, but I’m happy our guys have played. I’ve been in situations and seen situations where at the end of the year if nothing matters it’s tough to watch the games. For the most part our guys have been pretty good and I’m thankful for that.”
The Jets organization will presenting the Dan Snyder Memorial Award prior to tonight's game.
The award has been presented to a player on the Atlanta Thrashers, and now the Jets, since 2004 who "best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition," according to the team's website.
Snyder died from injuries sustained in a 2003 car accident in a vehicle being driven by then-teammate Dany Heatley.
Snyder's father Graham spoke to media today about the award. Watch the video below: