One year after shocking upset, Tampa Bay Lightning capture Stanley Cup with Game 6 win against Stars

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SportsPulse: The Tampa Bay Lightning captured the franchise’s second Stanley Cup title and former goalie Kevin Weekes explains why it should by no means come with an asterisk.


In April 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning skated off the ice, victims of a stunning first-round sweep by the Columbus Blue Jackets after a 62-win season.

Monday, they stayed on the ice after the end of Game 6 to lift the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history.

A 2-0 victory against the Dallas Stars completed the redemption tour as the Lightning went 16-6 after the round robin to win the NHL championship for the first time since 2004.

“I thought today was one of our most complete games ever played,” said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Last season’s shocker showed that skill alone was not enough to win a Cup, so general manager Julien BriseBois got busy, adding grit in forwards Pat Maroon and Barclay Goodrow and depth in forward Blake Coleman and defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn.

That allowed them to get past the Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Stars despite getting only five shifts from captain Steven Stamkos.

But in the end, the Lightning won a championship because their stars performed like stars this postseason.

A look at clinching Game 6:

Lightning’s top line chips in again

Brayden Point gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with a first-period power-play goal. It was his 14th goal of the postseason to give him the playoff lead.

Brayden Point gets his own rebound and opens the scoring for the Lightning, who are 11-1 in these playoffs when scoring the first

— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) September 29, 2020

Nikita Kucherov picked up his 27th assist on the play, which ranks fourth best all-time for a single playoff season. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were ahead of him.

Conn Smythe winner

Hedman, hurt for the final two games of last year’s series with Columbus, picked up an assist on the first goal to give him 22 points this season.

His 10 goals ranked third best all-time among defensemen for a single playoff year.

“I thought about it a lot during the break about what I can improve in my game about shooting the puck, and some of them found the net,” he told reporters. “At the end of the day, this is not my trophy, this is everyone’s trophy.”

He’s the 11th defenseman to win the award and the first since the Chicago Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith in 2015.

Newcomers chip in

Maroon picked off an Alexander Radulov pass in the second period and it led to a Coleman goal for a 2-0 lead.

It’s the second year in a row that Maroon has helped end the Stars’ season. He scored the double-overtime goal for the St. Louis Blues that knocked out the Stars in the second round of the 2019 playoffs.

A bad turnover by Radulov leads to a goal by Blake Coleman to give Bolts a 2:0 lead.

— Full Press NHL (@FullPressNHL) September 29, 2020

Maroon won back-to-back Stanley Cups with different teams. The last person to do that: Cory Stillman (Tampa Bay, 2004, and Carolina, 2006, after the lockout-canceled season). The last to do it in back-to-back years: Claude Lemieux (New Jersey, 1995, and Colorado, 1996).

Vasilevskiy shines

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 3.82 goals-against average in the loss to the Blue Jackets. Monday, he made 22 saves to pick up his first shutout of the playoffs.

He was aided by a superb Lightning defensive game that limited the Stars to four shots in each of the first two periods, though he had to make a big save on Tyler Seguin in the third period.

Vasilevskiy, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner and a finalist this year, played every minute and gave up two or fewer goals 14 times this postseason. He becomes the second Russian starting goalie to win a Stanley Cup. The first was the Lightning’s Nikolai Khabibulin in 2004.

Cup presentation

The Lightning, who spent months away from their family, changed the postgame presentation ceremony by first posing around the Stanley Cup as a team.

Commissioner Gary Bettman presented the Cup to Stamkos, who was in uniform for the occasion. He handed it first to Hedman.

Hedman said Stamkos “rallied the troops” after the Lightning’s Game 5 double-overtime loss to the Stars.

“For him to do that says a lot about him not just as a leader but as a person,” “He’s the most unselfish person you’ll meet. He’s all about the team. There’s a reason he’s one of the best captains in the world.”

Positives for Stars

Though the Stars were shut out in the final game, they had plenty of positives in the playoffs.

Miro Heiskanen led all defensemen with 26 points and Joe Pavelski set a record for career playoff goals for a U.S.-born players with 61. Goalie Anton Khudobin, normally a backup, shined in the absence of injured Ben Bishop.

But Seguin and captain Jamie Benn recorded no goals in the final round.

Lineup news

The Stars were down five regulars for the second game in a row: Bishop, Stephen Johns, Radek Faksa, Blake Comeau and Roope Hintz. The first three had yet to play in the series.

The Lightning brought back Bogosian, and forward Alexander Volkov made his first appearance of the playoffs. Defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Carter Verhaeghe sat out. Volkov’s appearance means he can get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

Successful bubble

The NHL reported no positive COVID-19 tests for the ninth week in a row. The league said it has administered 33,174 tests to club personnel, including players, since teams entered the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles this summer. 

Bettman, who usually hears boos during the Cup presentation, didn’t this time because no fans were in the stands.


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