The Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday accomplished their second consecutive romp via the N.H.L. postseason, defeating the Montreal Canadiens, 4 video games to 1, within the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals sequence to win their third title in franchise historical past.
9-and-a-half months after enduring a 65-day keep in Canadian playoff bubbles to hoist the silver chalice, the Lightning beat the Canadiens, 1-0, in Sport 5 on residence ice at Amalie Enviornment. In doing so, they be part of the Pittsburgh Penguins, in 2016-17, as the one groups within the final 15 years, for the reason that daybreak of the wage cap period, to repeat as champions.
“Now it turns into, like, a legacy factor,” Lightning Coach Jon Cooper stated earlier within the sequence. “You discuss a few of the nice groups in a decade span, you’d hope that the Tampa Bay Lightning can be talked about in that.”
In successful their final eight playoff sequence, the Lightning have gone 32-13 (16-6 final 12 months, 16-7 this 12 months). On this sequence, they weren’t behind till late within the first interval of Sport 4 towards the upstart Canadiens, who completed 18th amongst 31 groups in the course of the common season, and with a unfavourable objective differential, however invigorated the town of Montreal with an excellent cost to their first finals look in almost three a long time.
The Canadiens, bidding to turn out to be Canada’s first N.H.L. champion since 1993, outlasted Toronto, Winnipeg and Vegas, however they might not counter the great excellence of the Lightning, who outclassed Montreal at each place, together with goalie, the place for a lot of the sequence Andrei Vasilevskiy made the type of saves that Carey Worth didn’t.
In rampaging via this postseason after ending third in a reconfigured one-time-only Central division, the Lightning additionally obtained a jolt from the return of maybe their greatest participant, Nikita Kucherov, who missed the common season whereas recovering from hip surgical procedure.
The final Canadian workforce to win the Cup was Montreal, in 1993, the identical 12 months Tampa Bay, heralding the league’s Solar Belt enlargement, accomplished its inaugural season. The Lightning gained their first title in 2004, then meandered within the N.H.L. wilderness for the subsequent decade, successful solely two playoff sequence.
However no workforce has gained extra video games for the reason that starting of the 2014-15 season — in both the common season or the playoffs — than Tampa Bay, which has reached not less than the league’s semifinal spherical in 5 of seven years.
A workforce that had embraced what Cooper known as a “type of best present on ice” angle, that attempted to attain as many targets because it might whereas relying on its goalie to offset its affinity for offense, wanted to get “grittier” after absorbing in 2019 one of many extra confounding postseason meltdowns in main skilled sports activities historical past. After dashing to 62 victories in 82 video games, tying a league document, the Lightning had been swept in 4 video games within the first spherical by Columbus.
In response, the Lightning eradicated a few of the danger of their sport, stressing defensive tasks, and added rugged however expert bottom-six forwards like Patrick Maroon, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. They meshed with stalwarts like Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson.
The Lightning circumvented the league’s wage cap by including Kucherov for the playoffs, however they gained’t have the ability to retain everybody for subsequent season — particularly not with the Seattle Kraken enlargement draft looming — a state of affairs that Cooper stated had conferred upon this run a sure “final day of college” feeling.
“You perceive the state of affairs,” Stamkos, the workforce captain, stated earlier within the sequence, “so let’s exit and do as greatest as we are able to as a gaggle.”
That’s what the Lightning did. Their coronation, altogether new and the identical, got here Wednesday.