The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions. After defeating the Dallas Stars in six games, the Lightning have won the Stanley Cup for the second time in their history and the first time since 2004 when they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games.
The two teams went back and forth until 12:23 of the first period when Lightning forward Brayden Point threw a shot on goal on the power-play and got his own rebound to put the Lightning up 1-0. That goal was Point’s 14th of the postseason, the most of anyone in the playoffs, and proved to be the game-winner. Then in the second period, Blake Coleman of Tampa Bay sent a slap shot past Stars goalie Anton Khudobin to give the Lightning a 2-0 cushion heading into the third. The Stars did all they could in the third period to generate chances, but Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevsky was up to the task. Vasilevsky was brilliant as he has been all postseason long, turning aside 22 of 22 shots, 13 of which came in the third period. 2-0 Lightning was the final score.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. His 10 goals were only two shy of Paul Coffey’s record for most goals by a defenseman in one postseason and the most since Brian Leetch scored 11 in 1994 for the New York Rangers. A well-deserved honor for the 11-year pro.
For years it seemed that the Lightning had the most talented team in the league but couldn’t put it together in the playoffs. A season ago, the team had the best record in the NHL but it was swept in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. This season, with almost the exact same roster, everything came together as it dominated its competition from beginning to end of the postseason. They won all four series against the Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Stars in six games or fewer.
Only one player on the entire Lightning roster had won the Stanley Cup before: Patrick Maroon, who won the Cup last year with the St. Louis Blues. Maroon became the eighth player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons with different teams.
Both the Lightning and the Stars should be applauded for excellent playoff runs which culminated in a well-fought, competitive series. Though the Stars can be proud of their performance, the Lightning, though, leave the NHL bubble with the ultimate prize and honor: the Stanley Cup.