kenny albert of nbc sports said it best on the broadcast: “lightning strikes twice.”
Tampa Bay Lightning won its second consecutive Stanley Cup in a 1-0 Game 5 win on Wednesday, as Tampa Bay defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals.
this is the third stanley cup in the history of the franchise, the first in 2004 and the second last year in the bubble. The Lightning are the first team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017 to win back-to-back titles.
ross colton opened and finished the scoring for lightning in the second period. After a scrum along the boards, Ryan Mcdonagh appeared with the puck on the blue line and passed it to defensive partner David Savard. Savard then set up a perfect pass to Colton’s stick at the top of the crease for the easy touch goal.
carey price was stellar in keeping montreal’s hopes alive, but the habs offense couldn’t figure out andrei vasilevskiy, who made 22 saves in the win, and the lightning clinched a 1-0 victory and the stanley cup .
vasilevskiy was sensational in the postseason and was rewarded with the conn smythe trophy as playoff mvp. After becoming the only goaltender to have three consecutive shutouts in series-clinching games, the Russian goalie did better by stopping all 22 Canadians’ shots in Game 5. He finished the postseason with five shutouts.
The Canadians’ defense-first style was a recipe for success during the first three rounds, but lightning skill and depth overpowered the habs. Lightning dominated Habs in Game 1, winning 5-1 thanks to Nikita Kucherov’s three-point performance, including two goals in the third period.
the canadians responded in game 2, outscoring lightning 43-23 and controlling most of the game. However, a dunk goal in the closing seconds of the second period from Blake Coleman gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead and thanks to Vasilevskiy’s 42 saves, the Lightning won 3-1, taking the first two games of the season. series in tampa.
In Montreal, Lightning got off to a fast start in Game 3, scoring two goals in the first four minutes of both the first and second periods, building a 4-1 lead before the game’s half. the bolts held on to win 6-3, putting them within a game of lifting the cup.
However, the Canadians would not go down easily. After exchanging two goals a piece in the first 60 minutes, Josh Anderson scored his second goal of the game in OT, diving into a loose puck and beating Vasilevskiy for the 3-2 win, sending the series back south to Tampa .
the road from tampa to the final was not as easy as some thought. In the first round, Tampa battled with their in-state rival, the Florida Panthers, winning the series 4-2. The Bolts then faced the best team in the East, the Carolina Hurricanes, in the second round, defeating the Canes in five games.
The semifinals proved to be the Lightning’s toughest test, as the New York Islanders took the Lightning to seven games. A second period goal by Yanni Gourde in Game 7 proved to be the game and series winner, as Vasilevskiy stopped all 18 shots he saw in a 1-0 win to punch the Bolts ticket back to the final.
for Canadians, it ends a Cinderella career. Montreal entered the postseason with the worst record of any playoff team. They were seen as big losers against the best team in the North Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the Leafs up 3-1 in the series, it looked like the Habs season was ending, but the Canadians came back, won three straight elimination games and took the series 4-3. Montreal made quick work of the Winnipeg Jets in the second round with a sweep, setting up a date with the Vegas Golden Knights in the semifinals.
the canadians were again seen as big underdogs against vegas, who had the second-best record in the league. After Vegas won Game 1 in dominant fashion, Montreal won four of the next five games, with Artturi Lehkonen scoring a game-winning goal in overtime in Game 6 to send the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993. The Habs held Vegas Captain Stone’s record to zero points in the series and stunned the Golden Knights with the setback.
for lightning, kucherov continued to dominate in the postseason. After missing the entire regular season, Kucherov led all skaters with 24 assists and 32 points, just one season after scoring 34 points in 25 games. Brayden Point’s 14 goals led all skaters, and Vasilevskiy finished with goals-against-and-saves percentage.
despite the stanley cup loss, there are plenty of positives for a canadian team full of promising young forwards. Young forward phenom Cole Caufield, who signed his contract with the Canadiens in March after his Hobey Baker-winning season with the University of Wisconsin, scored 12 points in his first postseason appearance.
Sophomore center Nick Suzuki led the Canadians with seven goals and 16 points in the postseason after a 41-point regular season. and jesperi kotkaniemi, the no. 3 in the 2018 draft, had five postseason goals.
After a long and hard-fought postseason, the Canadians now move into the offseason, with the nhl expansion draft, the nhl entry draft and the start of free agency all starting next week. weeks. but the lightning bolts have a few jet skis and boats to ride in celebration before moving on to the 2021-22 season.