TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup champs — they usually did it in a nine-month span.
“This group, it doesn’t matter what occurs from right here on out, this group goes to be etched in historical past ceaselessly, and that is fairly F’ing particular,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos mentioned. “I am so pleased with the blokes. You may’t soak it in but. It is so contemporary. It is so new. You do not even notice what is going on to occur. We received the Stanley Cup, and we nonetheless have the Stanley Cup. That is simply superb.”
Tampa Bay defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 to shut out the sequence 4-1 on Wednesday at dwelling, turning into the primary crew to repeat as champion because the 2016 and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy received the Conn Smythe Trophy and recorded his fifth straight shutout in a series-clinching sport.
With the Recreation 5 win, the Lightning improved to 15-0 instantly following a loss over the previous two postseasons, the longest such streak in NHL historical past. Defeating Montreal is the fifteenth sequence win for the Lightning since 2015. In that span, no different crew has received greater than 9 sequence.
“COVID, going within the bubble for 60-plus days, beginning the yr with COVID, no followers, having a shortened season, mainly, then bouncing again after we received the Cup two months later, then beginning the season once more with 56 video games, and it is back-to-backs each different day, it takes lots,” Tampa Bay veteran ahead Pat Maroon mentioned. “To win the Stanley Cup, guys are banged up, guys are harm.”
Tampa Bay was with out veteran ahead Alex Killorn, who blocked a shot by Jeff Petry in Recreation 1. Killorn revealed Wednesday night time that he had a damaged fibula and underwent surgical procedure final week to have a rod inserted into his leg.
“I attempted for Recreation 4, however clearly it wasn’t adequate. Then it bought worse after making an attempt it,” Killorn mentioned. “If it got here right down to it, I in all probability would have performed the following sport or Recreation 7, however the boys had been adequate that did not need to occur.”
As Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman defined, “That claims a complete lot about our crew. Folks wished to sacrifice no matter it took to be a back-to-back Stanley Cup winner. That is the arrogance we had going into the playoffs.”
Tampa Bay dominated the primary interval of Recreation 5, holding a 13-8 edge in pictures and 16-8 edge in managed entries, however it couldn’t get a puck previous Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Nonetheless, Lightning rookie Ross Colton broke open the scoring 13:27 into the second interval. Colton was arrange on the aim by defenseman David Savard, the one different participant on Tampa Bay’s roster who had not received a Stanley Cup.
The Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in September to win the Cup within the bubble in Edmonton, Alberta. The franchise’s solely different Cup title got here in 2004.
Resulting from pandemic restrictions in Canada, the Lightning celebrated final yr largely with out relations allowed in attendance. Had Tampa Bay received in Recreation 4 on Monday — turning into the primary crew to brush the Stanley Cup Ultimate in 23 years — that may have been the case once more. The Canadian authorities didn’t grant further exemptions for relations to cross the border and skirt the federal 14-day quarantine, one thing the NHL had negotiated for groups in the course of the earlier two rounds.
As an alternative, as Tampa Mayor Jane Castor jokingly recommended earlier this week, by dropping Recreation 4, the Lightning had been capable of clinch on dwelling ice, celebrating in a packed area and with family members.
“We had a possibility final sport in Montreal to win it, and we did not, after which they get some life and are available in right here,” Stamkos mentioned. “However we simply mentioned, it is a possibility. It is a possibility to win in entrance of our followers, it is a possibility to win in entrance of our household, and people two teams did not get an opportunity to have fun with us final yr. And that was motivation.”
The Cup additionally marked a private three-peat for Maroon, who received together with his hometown St. Louis Blues in 2019. No NHL participant had received three straight Cups since 1983, when 15 New York Islanders wrapped up their fourth in a row. No participant had received three straight Cups with two totally different groups since 1964.
“I used to be crying mainly on the bench with 1:40 left,” Maroon mentioned. “I could not even throw my stuff off as a result of it is simply — being a Stanley Cup champ three years in a row is fairly particular. It takes a gaggle, 25 males, and we did it. I will reminisce about this once I retire with my son, however I will soak all of it in.”
The Canadiens had been heavy underdogs coming into the Ultimate and had the worst factors proportion (.527) of any crew to qualify for the 16-team playoff subject. Montreal didn’t maintain a lead at any level towards Tampa Bay till Josh Anderson scored within the first interval of Recreation 4 — snapping a streak of 195 minutes, 39 seconds.
“The resilience that we confirmed — only a good crew to be part of,” Canadiens ahead Brendan Gallagher mentioned. “As painful as that is proper now, generally it’s essential really feel this to name your self the champion.”
Lightning star Nikita Kucherov took an unprompted shot at Montreal in his postgame information convention, which he appeared at shirtless.
“I am so blissful. I did not wish to return to Montreal,” Kucherov mentioned. “The followers in Montreal, come on. They acted like they received the Stanley Cup final sport. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their last was the final sequence, OK?”
Kucherov additionally was defensive about his goalie and good good friend, Vasilevskiy: “If he performed in a unique market, he would win the Vezina yearly.”
The Lightning had been anticipated to make important roster modifications after final yr’s Cup to remain salary-cap compliant. However Kucherov underwent hip surgical procedure on Dec. 29 and was sidelined for all the common season, which allowed basic supervisor Julien BriseBois to maintain his roster largely intact. Kucherov returned for Recreation 1 of the primary spherical and was sensational all through all the playoffs, main all scorers with 32 factors — 9 greater than another participant.
“I do not know anybody who can miss all the common season, come again and do what he did,” Tampa Bay ahead Blake Coleman mentioned. “He deserves all of the credit score.”
The Lightning additionally put veteran Tyler Johnson — who led them in scoring of their 2015 Stanley Cup Ultimate run — on waivers twice, and he went unclaimed every time. Johnson was one in all Tampa Bay’s key depth gamers within the 2021 run and scored twice in Recreation 3 of the Ultimate.
Stamkos mentioned twice in the course of the postseason that the crew brazenly addressed what the remainder of the hockey world is aware of is coming: “That is realistically the final time we will have the prospect to all play collectively.”