WINNIPEG — Steven Stamkos heard the boos from the Jets fans Saturday night.
It has become a tradition at the MTS Centre that the opponent's star player gets that treatment. So every time the Lightning center touched the puck, the boos rained down long and loud.
That is, until Stamkos scored his 60th goal. That is when the crowd stood and cheered as Stamkos, 22, became the 20th player to reach the milestone.
"It was incredible," Stamkos said. "I have a lot of respect for all the fans here. That made it even more special, to do it in Canada and have them give me an ovation like that. It was amazing."
It was even better to get it in a 4-3 overtime victory in the season finale. "Something I'll remember forever," he said.
Teddy Purcell finished off a hat trick with the winning goal 1:07 into the extra period. Vinny Lecavalier had two assists, and Dwayne Roloson was superb with 28 saves as Winnipeg had a 31-25 shot advantage.
As the game ended, Stamkos gave Roloson a huge hug.
"I just want to see the best success for the guy," Roloson said. "Everything he gets, he's earned it. That's why myself and the guys were so elated he got it."
The goal 3:29 into the third period, which gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead, made Stamkos only the second player in 15 seasons to reach 60 goals and the first since Washington's Alex Ovechkin scored 65 in 2007-08.
Stamkos' 60 goals led the league by 10 this season, as did his 48 at even strength. His 12 winners tied for the league lead, and his 97 points are a career high. Had Tampa Bay (38-36-8) made the playoffs, he would have been a prime candidate for league MVP.
"It's awesome," Purcell said.
Said left wing Ryan Malone: "I'd take 60 points."
It was a trying week for Stamkos. As he inched closer to 60, media scrutiny increased, and on a season-ending three-game road trip through Canada — including a stop in his home city, Toronto — questions never stopped.
Stamkos tried to downplay 60 goals, saying 59 would not diminish his season. But with the milestone under his belt, he admitted, "It's special. I don't think it's going to sink in until after the season. I was trying my best to not show it and hide it."
"You can't imagine," he said of his relief. "It's crazy. It's just a big weight off my shoulders. I think I've talked about this the most I've talked about anything in my career. It was amazing"
And it was fitting Marty St. Louis, his friend and linemate, got the primary assist. From behind the goal line, he passed to the slot to Stamkos, who beat goalie Ondrej Pavelec with a wrist shot. "I knew he was going to give it to me," Stamkos said. "I just tried to get a shot off on the short side, and it went in. It was a great feeling."
"It's fitting," St. Louis said. "He's a hard-working guy. We tried to get him to 50, and he kept scoring."
Stamkos had 10 goals in last nine games.
"I remember me and Malone talking on the bench," Purcell said. "We had goose bumps."
"I'm probably going to be on the highlights all over the world for the next few weeks and probably the next year, too," Pavelec said. "He's a great player and made a great shot. All you can say is congrats. Sixty goals is amazing."
Jets fans know that, too.
First Period—1, TB, Purcell 22 (Lecavalier), 17:49. Penalties—Stuart, Wpg (tripping), 7:41; Clitsome, Wpg (tripping), 13:40.
Second Period—2, TB, Purcell 23 (Lecavalier, Brown), 1:12. 3, Wpg, Antropov 15 (Miettinen, Kane), 8:53. Penalties—Brewer, TB (hooking), 6:46.
Third Period—4, TB, Stamkos 60 (St. Louis, Lee), 3:29. 5, Wpg, Slater 12 (Clitsome, Enstrom), 4:59. 6, Wpg, Slater 13 (Wheeler, Ladd), 19:07. Penalties—Malone, TB (hooking), 13:13; Little, Wpg (holding), 15:18.
Overtime—7, TB, Purcell 24 (Hedman), 1:08. Penalties—None. Shots—TB 8-6-10-1—25. Wpg 3-15-12-1—31. PP opps—TB 0 of 3; Wpg 0 of 2. Goalies—TB, Roloson 13-16-3 (31 shots-28 saves). Wpg, Pavelec 29-28-9 (25-21).