Tampa Bay Lightning are the back-to-back champions of the Stanley Cup after beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in the 5th game on Wednesday night.
They are the second team from an era of recurring pay limits, joining the Pittsburgh Penguins 2016-17, although due to salary limits some parts of the team could look different next season.
Still, Lightning will have top scorers in Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, top defender Victor Hedman and great goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevsky.
“We’ve been knocking on doors for so many years, and now that we can do it back and forth, that kind of cements this group as special,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Vasilevskiy had another strong comeback after the defeat with the exclusion of 22 defenses to give the city its third championship in less than a year. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in February.
KUCHEROV:Star doesn’t linger at the press conference after Lightning won the Stanley Cup
Vasilevskiy won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP with his fifth elimination. Counting the Stanley Cup title in 2020, he recorded exclusions in five consecutive clinchers.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “Obviously the whole team deserves it. Just to have five exclusions in one playoff, it’s all in the team.”
Lightning won their championship in a balloon environment in Edmonton last fall, but this time they had to celebrate in front of their fans at the Amalie Arena. Lightning are the first NHL team to take home the Stanley Cup title since the Chicago Blackhawks did so in 2015 against Tampa Bay.
“We really wanted to take this opportunity in front of the crowd, in front of the family and we found a way to do it,” said defense attorney Ryan McDonagh. “It’s a great feeling. We’ll celebrate all night.”
Game View 5:
– Rookie Ross Colton scores
Striker Ross Colton and defender David Savard were not part of the 2020 Lightning Championship.
But, a lone goal joined 13:27 of the second section.
Savard inserted McDonagh, slipped into the right faceoff circle and added a pass, which Colton switched past Montreal goalkeeper Carey Price.
It was Colton’s fourth goal in the playoffs. He crossed to the second line after an injury to Alex Killorn.
Colton was in the American Hockey League last season when Lightning took off. Savard was bought from Columbus Blue Jackets within a certain period of time smart maneuvering by wage restraint general manager of Lightning, Julien BriseBois.
Andrei Vasilevsky shines
Due to Vasilevski’s game, Lightning did not lose a match-in-back in two consecutive postseason. Last season he was 7-0, and this season 7-0 after the defeat.
Lightning played a strong defense in front of him in Game 5, but he defended Montreal’s pressure before Colton’s goal.
He also stopped Josre Anderson from Montreal and in the third half saved the blocker from Brendan Gallagher.
“I can’t believe he’s closing the door on the biggest games of his career,” Cooper said. “When locked, it’s great to watch.”
Lightning also blocked nine shots in front of Vasilevski. Barclay Goodrow had three of them, including a big one on Canadiens hard-shooter captain Shea Weber in the third period.
“It’s an example of everything with our team,” Cooper said.
Patrick Maroon makes three
Thunder striker Pat Maroon picked up his third consecutive Stanley Cup title, including the 2019 one with St. Louis. Louis Blues.
He is the first person to win three consecutive cups with different teams since Ed Litzenberger did so with Chicago in 1961 and Toronto in 1962-64.
Lightning didn’t get their day with the Stanley Cup last year because of the pandemic.
“We hope to get two days with the Cup, and that backwards, because we missed our day last year, so the NHL, wake up,” Maroon said.
Canadians are failing
Price took Canadiens ’18th place to the finals and defended their second consecutive strong performance on Wednesday night with 29 saves.
But he partly blamed himself for the defeat in the championship round after scoring 4.39 goals against the average and a saving percentage of 835 as the Canadiens trailed 3-0 in the series.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think I played well enough at the start of the series,” he said.
Weber quickly interjected, “I don’t think that’s the case at all, to be honest with you. I don’t think we were good enough before Carey. Give them credit. They’re a hell of a team. They were here for a reason and in the end they were better than us. ”