Were it not for Jim Slater’s two-goal effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, the game never reaches extra time. Even though the Winnipeg Jets lost 4-3 anyway, it was big for them to show their fans some fight in the final game of the season.
I wrote yesterday that I was excited to see what the crowd had to offer in the final game of the inaugural season, but Tampa’s quick two-goal lead built by Teddy Purcell goals really mitigated any energy in the building. The crowd was quite much of the game until the Slater heroics.
Steven Stamkos scored his milestone 60th goal of the season at 3:29 of the 3rd period to make it 3-1. A tip of the cap to Jets fans is in order as many stood and applauded a historical moment. At that point of the game, the Jets and the crowd seemed out of the game and finished.
About a minute later, Slater gave the team and the fans the shot in the arm that everyone needed by driving to the net after receiving a beautiful feed from Grant Clitsome. Slater would tie the game with 43 seconds left by being exactly where should, right in front of the net. Blake Wheeler set up Slater with a sweet dish and he pounded it in for the game tying goal.
Slater’s effort and determination have been noticeable all year long and he’s proved himself as a capable third line player that should be around for a while. A character guy, Slater is up for the Masterton Trophy as Winnipeg’s nominee this year.
The excitement and extra hockey were short-lived however, as Purcell struck once more 1:08 of overtime for the hat trick, ending the Winnipeg Jets’ season at 37-35-10. The man was shooting bullets all night and popped a third over the shoulder of Ondrej Pavelec.
Despite giving up four goals, I thought Pavelec had a strong game and didn’t have much of a chance on the goals Tampa scored. He came up with some big saves in the third period to keep his team in the game and it’s too bad he couldn’t get the win.
And so ends the 2011-12 season; the Winnipeg Jets’ inaugural campaign. A week after the Lightning ended Winnipeg’s playoff hopes; they spoil the season finale in the Jets’ home barn. A lot of things will change in the offseason with both clubs, but I’d be surprised if Claude Noel and the boys haven’t filed this one away in the memory bank for next year.