The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history after defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 on Monday night. It's the first major title decided since the coronavirus pandemic forced the sports world to shut down in March.
Dallas seemed to struggle throughout the series which saw Tampa Bay capitalize on a number of sloppy penalties and an underperforming offense.
Brayden Point scored his playoff-best 14th goal help finish off the most unusual NHL postseason in history, staged nearly entirely in quarantine because of the pandemic. The clock hitting zeros with no fans in attendance set off a celebration for a team that endured years of playoff heartbreak and two months in isolation.
“It takes a lot to be in a bubble for 80 days or whatever long it was,” said defenseman Victor Hedman, who was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. "But it’s all worth it now, we’re coming home with the Cup.”
Goals from Point and Blake Coleman and a 22-save shutout by Andrei Vasilevskiy in Game 6 were enough to power the Lightning to some familiar territory.
The franchise previously won the Stanley Cup in 2004 under head coach John Tortorella when they beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7. Tampa has had 12 playoff seasons, three culminating in final appearances.
Head coach Jon Cooper previously took Tampa to the Cup finals in 2015 but they lost 2-0 in Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Commissioner Gary Bettman presented the Cup to Steven Stamkos in what was surely a surreal moment for the team captain.
“These last six weeks have been really emotional for my family and I, not only on the ice but off the ice," said Stamkos, who played just 2:37 in the playoffs yet scored a goal in Game 3. "I just want to say to my family: I love you guys so much. To all the friends and everyone who supported us along the way: We love you, we can’t wait to celebrate with you.”
The Stars came out strong with a 4-1 win in Game 1 but the Lightning quickly adjusted, coming back to win three consecutive games. The Stars managed to stay alive in Game 5 on Saturday with an energized double-overtime goal but it wasn’t enough to keep things going in the face of elimination.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.