It’s all eyes once again on Champa Bay, as goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy tied an NHL record with his fifth consecutive playoff series-clinching shutout. The game was dominated by defense as the Canadiens looked to salvage the series and force a Game 6. Tampa scored one goal. It was not from Nikita Kucherov, it was not from Brayden Point, who was ultimately silent throughout the entire series. It was rookie duo David Savard and Ross Colton who broke out late in the second to combine for the contest’s only score. The only two players on the Lightning without their name engraved into the Stanley Cup, Savard’s pass led to Colton’s goal.
The Canadiens only shot a mere 22 times, but most of them were loud and close as Vasilevskiy made a number of incredible saves. Perhaps the biggest shot on goal, however, was with just over seven minutes left in the game when Barclay Goodrow sold out for the block. Goodrow immediately exited the game with the help of Brayden Point, although Goodrow re-entered the game in the final few minutes.
With 90 seconds left on the clock, Ryan McDonagh cleared the puck out from Montreal territory and iced it toward the empty net. With the extra man on ice, the last minute was riveting as the Canadiens had ample opportunity to tie the game as Goodrow blocked yet another goal, this time from Jeff Petry as time winded down. Goodrow blocked at least four shots within the last ten minutes.
The Lightning are the first team since the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins to win back-to-back Cups. Despite the loss in Game 4, the Lightning continued to chip and have not lost back-to-back playoff games since the heartbreaking sweep to the Blue Jackets in 2019. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in last year’s bubble, but it is the first time since 2004 that they clinched on home ice. Back then, the Amalie Arena was called the St. Pete’s Time Forum. Pat Maroon has won three straight Stanley Cups dating back to his tenure with the Blues. Jon Cooper is the sixth head coach to go back-to-back in the post-six era, and four are in the Hall of Fame. The two victories were a record 283 days apart.
Kenny Albert put it best: Lightning strikes twice. The Lightning are only the ninth franchise to ever repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Before tonight, Ken Dryden in the 1970s was the most recent goalie to play every game in back-to-back Cups. Now, it is Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has not lost back-to-back games in the last two postseasons. For that, he is the first goaltender since Kings’ Jonathan Quick.
This story will be updated.
Follow me on Twitter: @TheJameus.
Like me on Facebook here.