TAMPA, Fla. — It solely took scoring as soon as for the Tampa Bay Lightning to strike twice and repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
Backstopped by their star goaltender and the one two Tampa Bay gamers on the ice with out their title on the Cup, the Lightning gained all of it for the second time in 10 months by beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Recreation 5 on Wednesday evening.
Andrei Vasilevskiy had a series-ending shutout for an NHL-record fifth consecutive time relationship to the 2020 ultimate. Ending with a handful in a frantic ultimate minute, he made 22 saves to stay undefeated in video games after a loss over the previous two playoffs, each contested throughout a lethal pandemic with the Lightning popping out on prime every time.
Ross Colton and David Savard weren’t round final 12 months and made positive to place their stamp on Tampa Bay’s newest title run. Savard arrange Coleman’s aim halfway by the second interval previous Canadiens stalwart Carey Worth that fired up the gang of over 17,000 followers at Amalie Area.
The scene couldn’t have been any farther from the mirthless, empty area the place the Lightning gained the Cup final September in a quarantined bubble throughout the continent in Edmonton, Alberta. Tampa Bay joined Pittsburgh as the one back-to-back Cup winner within the salary-cap period, however much more impressively did it amid virus protocols with the shortest span between championships within the lengthy historical past of the NHL.
By no means dropping twice in a row due to a mix of Vasilevskiy’s brilliance and one of many deepest rosters constructed because the cap was carried out in 2005, the Lightning solidified their standing as a modern-day dynasty.
How deep? Nikita Kucherov had 32 factors to hitch Mario Lemieux as the one gamers to guide the postseason in scoring two years in a row, and Brayden Level scored 14 objectives by three rounds. Kucherov, Level and defenseman Victor Hedman all performed by accidents, too.
It was simply to a lot for the Canadiens, who relied once more on Worth to maintain them in a recreation. He completed with 29 saves — one too few to forestall a Cup celebration for Tampa Bay.
The sunbelt franchise in a nontraditional market that didn’t even exist till 1992-93 went by the NHL’s most storied franchise to do it. The Lightning gained the Cup for the third time in franchise historical past and denied Montreal a twenty fifth league championship banner.
The Lightning additionally added one other title for “Champa Bay,” with this title approaching the heels of Tom Brady main the Buccaneers to a Tremendous Bowl victory in February. The Tampa Bay Rays went to the World Collection final fall.
Tampa Bay’s mayor had recommended the Lightning lose Recreation 4 on the highway so they might win at house, and he or she obtained her want as coach Jon Cooper’s staff grew to become the primary since Chicago in 2015 to hoist the Cup on house ice.
That paved the best way not just for followers to roar in approval however for households to hitch within the celebration, one thing that wasn’t doable within the bubble. Patrick Maroon grew to become the fourth participant in NHL historical past to win the Cup three years in a row with two groups whereas Kucherov joined Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky as the one gamers with 30-plus factors in back-to-back playoffs.
The back-to-back title run was spurred by the adversity of the staff overcoming the shock of getting swept by Columbus within the first spherical of the 2019 playoffs. They realized from every loss after that to construct up a resolve that’s exhausting to keep up over as playoff hockey takes a toll.
The Canadiens ran out of fuel in what was an in any other case shock playoff run for a staff that opened the postseason with the worst document of the 16 qualifiers. Montreal rallied from a 3-1 first-round collection deficit in opposition to Toronto and eradicated Winnipeg and Vegas in reaching the ultimate spherical for the primary time since profitable the Cup in 1993.