Tampa Bay Lightning’s 10 Highlights Of 2012

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Tampa Bay Lightning's 10 Highlights Of 2012

Tampa Bay Lightning's 10 Highlights Of 2012
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

As 2012 comes to an end and the Tampa Bay Lightning haven't taken to the ice since April--(no) thank you NHL lockout for that--it's time to look back on the year that was and remember some of the highlights which helped shape Lightning hockey.

Yes, even though the Lightning missed the playoffs, suffered a long losing streak to end 2011 and battled through a number of injuries to key players, there were still some unforgettable moments.

To be included in this list, the moment or milestone had to happen in 2012. I made one exception though as a single milestone occurred on New Year's Eve 2011 but started something huge which took place this year--though we were robbed of a proper celebration. However, milestones such as Martin St. Louis' and Vincent Lecavalier's 800th career point did not make the cut because they happened in 2011 with no bearing on 2012.

This slide show is in no particular order except for the fact that the top moment is listed first.

Either way, as we bid goodbye to 2012 and say hello to 2013, sit back and enjoy looking back on the year that was for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here's hoping 2013 provides some more big moments so I can make a longer list!

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Steven Stamkos' 60th Goal

Steven Stamkos' 60th Goal
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

It took until the final game of the regular season--with fans on the edge of their seats with every shot he took-- but Steven Stamkos accomplished the huge but rare these days feat of 60 goals in a season. He did this by beating Winnipeg Jets' goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, a guy Stamkos had tons of past success against. In achieving this, he joined Alexander Ovechkin as the only two players since the 1990's or before to score 60 in one season. Not bad company to be in and a great way for Stamkos and his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates to erase, at least momentarily, the memory of barely missing the playoffs just one year after they came within one goal of advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Martin St. Louis' Hat Trick In 900th Career Game

Martin St. Louis' Hat Trick In 900th Career Game
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a freak accident where (former) teammate Dominic Moore inadvertently hit him with a puck during a morning skate, causing him to miss what was to be his 500th consecutive game, Martin St. Louis was extra careful prior to his 900th career game on Feb 4. However, once St. Louis took the ice there was no stopping him, as he proceeded to score a hat trick in a Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers. I was at that game and vividly remember his third goal--it was an empty netter where he got behind the defense and a great pass had him off to the races!

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Mike Angelidis' First NHL Game, Goal & Point

Mike Angelidis' First NHL Game, Goal & Point
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With numerous regulars out with injuries the Tampa Bay Lightning had to call up players from their AHL affiliate, Norfolk Admirals. One game in particular, Jan 24 vs the Columbus Blue Jackets, stood out as somewhere between six and seven AHL players were pressed into NHL duty. Mike Angelidis was one of them and he made the most of his opportunity, opening things by scoring his first career NHL goal and point during one of his first shifts in a 4-2 Lightning win over the Blue Jackets.

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Dustin Tokarski's First NHL Win

Dustin Tokarski's First NHL Win
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With Dwayne Roloson unavailable for some reason and Mathieu Garon out with a groin tear the Tampa Bay Lightning had to turn to AHL Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski. As one might expect Tik, as he's often called, struggled in his first few starts. Then came March 13, 2012. With the Lightning facing the Boston Bruins, a game that meant a lot because of how close they came to beating them and advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals just about 10 months prior, the offense came alive and Tik made some great saves to earn his first win as the Lightning thrashed the Bruins 6-1. Hey, not a bad team to get your first win against!

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AHL Affiliate, Norfolk Admirals, Win Calder Cup

AHL Affiliate, Norfolk Admirals, Win Calder Cup
Scott Slingsby-Flickr

The Tampa Bay Lightning's (former) AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, had an unforgettable season in 2012. Beginning in early February the team ripped off a professional hockey record 28 consecutive wins to finish the regular season. Then came the playoffs. The team didn't have much trouble there either, sweeping both the Eastern Conference Finals vs the St. Johns IceCaps and the Calder Cup Finals against the Toronto Marlies. Their 6-1 thrashing of the Marlies in Game 4 actually captured the Cup and the rest is history as they say!

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Steven Stamkos Shines At NHL All Star Events in Ottawa

Steven Stamkos Shines At NHL All Star Events in Ottawa
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Stamkos was the lone Tampa Bay Lightning representative at the 2012 All Star game in Ottawa. He made the most of his opportunity, winning the elimination shootout to help Team Alfredsson win the Skills Competition Sat night. In the game on Sunday, he recorded an assist but missed a penalty shot as Team Alfredsson ended up losing to Team Chara. Regardless, it was a fun reprieve for Stamkos. Now if only the Lightning could get him to do that well in regular game shootouts!

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Teddy Purcell's Success Continues

Teddy Purcell's Success Continues
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Teddy Purcell was a hidden gem until the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings a few years ago. Once with the Lightning he blossomed into a great first or second line player. 2012 saw his success continue, as Purcell led the team with a plus-9 rating and was third in points, behind only alternate captains Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. To top things off, he finished the 2011-12 season with a hat trick in the team's final regular season game.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Swap AHL Affiliates

Tampa Bay Lightning Swap AHL Affiliates
CT Whale-Flickr

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced they were swapping AHL affiliates from the Norfolk Admirals to the Syracuse Crunch on June 14, 2012. With this swap, all players under contract by the Lightning that were deemed eligible to play in the AHL went to Syracuse. (Source: Wikipedia) I know, it sounds odd after our boys won the Calder Cup with Norfolk but it seems to be working out well as the Crunch currently lead the AHL's Eastern Conference.

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Phil Esposito Statue Unveiled To Begin Tampa Bay Lightning 20th Anniversary

Phil Esposito Statue Unveiled To Begin Tampa Bay Lightning 20th Anniversary
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This was the only exception I made to the 2012 rule as the statue was actually unveiled Dec 31, 2011. It led into the actual 20th Anniversary season though, as the Tampa Bay Lightning began NHL play in 1992-93'. Unfortunately, the current lockout is costing Lightning fans and the team a chance to properly celebrate. This is the second lockout that's cost the Lightning a proper celebration, the first coming right after the team won their first Stanley Cup. At least we were able to honor our founder, Phil Esposito, by having a bronze statue of him placed on the plaza for everyone to see before entering the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Nice way to recognize a wonderful man who's responsible for providing us with Lightning hockey!

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Steven Stamkos Sets NHL Record With Five Overtime Goals

Steven Stamkos Sets NHL Record With Five Overtime Goals
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Stamkos had a number of milestones he reached or surpassed in 2012. With that in mind, I only picked a few to feature because I felt other players deserved recognition as well. This moment, though not his biggest, was up toward the top. Stamkos crossed this off the list of milestones to reach on March 31, 2012 vs his old buddy, Ondrej Pavelec, and the Winnipeg Jets. I remember the shot clearly as I was maybe 10 rows up behind the glass when it occurred. It was his trademark, the one from the left circle which regularly beat opposing goalies with. Looking back, Stamkos won that weeks bout--first setting a new record for overtime goals in a season and then getting his 60th.

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