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By Dory LeBlanc
Since June 7, 2004, Nikolai Khabibulin has only played on the ice where he hoisted the Stanley Cup once. Tonight, he's about to make a return visit between the pipes.
Following the Lightning's Cup victory, the NHL was locked out for the entire 2004-05 season and when the league resumed play a year later, Khabibulin, Tampa Bay's star goalie who had posted five shutouts in the Bolts' Cup run, was wearing a new uniform after four seasons with the club.
The Russian netminder would spend the next four years with the Blackhawks, followed by a four-season stint in Edmonton, before heading back to the Windy City. For Khabibulin, Tampa Bay will always be a special place.
"I think it's the whole team - how we were really together," Khabibulin said. "A lot of guys stepped in, obviously the star players played great. To me, the biggest memory was winning the last game at home.
"This is where it all happened. I like the fans here. I had such a great experience here. So every time when I come back, whether I play or not, you know I only got to play here once, so it was pretty special last time I played here. But I think it will be just the same tonight."
To hear the entire conversation, click below (Courtesy of the Lightning Radio Network):