After six games in the series against the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup trophy. Jon Cooper’s boys closed the season last night, with a 2-0 win that secured them the long-awaited NHL title.
“We just had belief,” said Brayden Point, who added another goal in the Stanely Cup finals to his tally. “We believed we could do it. We stuck to our system, never got too high, never got too low, and the result is the Cup. Couldn’t be happier.”
It is a reward for the Lightning, who were constantly among the top team in the league over the last five years, and even though they suffered some nasty blows, they never quit, but quite the opposite, came back stronger each year.
Last year was pretty devastating for the franchise. The Lightning won the Presidents’ Trophy, having one of the best ever seasons in the NHL, but after that suffered an exit in the first round od the playoffs. Columbus Blue Jackets swept Tampa Bay, who became the first league-best team to experience that in the opening round of the playoffs.
This year, Cooper’s guys didn’t allow anything similar to happen. They did start the finals with a loss, but quickly started pounding the rivals, seizing the control of the series.
Tonight, they routinely won the match, posting two goals over the first two periods, allowing the rivals to have just 8 shots during that time. Once Dallas woke up, it was already too late, and in those moments, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an impregnable wall in front of Tampa Bay’s net. This was the first shutout for the Russian in these playoffs.
“Obviously, we played extremely well, just gave up a few scoring chances. Just grateful that the shutout happened tonight at the most important time in our lives,” he said.
An opening goal came following Brayden Point’s shot, which was saved by Anton Khudobin. However, the Lightning player scored on a rebound, to put his team up after 12:23 of the first. In those moments, Tampa Bay had an extra player on the ice following John Klingberg’s tripping penalty.
Blake Coleman scored the second and the final goal of the night, with one second over seven minutes into the middle period.
Dallas tried to make a miracle in the final frame, but they didn’t have the power to score, even though Stars sent 14 shots towards the rival’s net, twice as many as Tampa Bay. Their head coach, Rick Bowness, said he has no regrets on this series, and that his players gave everything they had.
“I’m proud of our players. They gave us everything they could. Was there enough in the tank tonight? No, there wasn’t. But it’s a credit to our players with everything we’ve been through to get to Game 6.”
Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman won the ConnSmythe Trophy, for the playoffs MVP. The 29-year old showed excellent performances with 10 goals and 12 assists in 25 matches, and he deserved to take the honors back home.
“It’s been a grind. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s over,” he said. “We’re going to be Stanley Cup champs forever.”
This is the second title for this franchise, the first one since 2004 when the Lightning beat Calgary Flames in seven matches. One of the best team in the last two or three decades got the confirmation of its quality.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.