NHL

Lightning Strikes Twice: Tampa Bay Repeats As Cup Champion

Jul 7, 2021, 9:16 PM
Tampa Bay Lightning - Stanley Cup Champions...
Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning hoists the Stanley Cup overhead after the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five to win the best of seven game series 4-1 during the Stanley Cup Final of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on July 7, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz /NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Iskowitz /NHLI via Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — It only took scoring once for the Tampa Bay Lightning to strike twice and repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

Backstopped by their star goaltender and the only two Tampa Bay players on the ice without their name on the Cup, the Lightning won it all for the second time in 10 months by beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a series-ending shutout for an NHL-record fifth consecutive time dating to the 2020 final. Finishing with a handful in a frantic final minute, he made 22 saves to remain undefeated in games after a loss over the past two playoffs, both contested during a deadly pandemic with the Lightning coming out on top each time.

Ross Colton and David Savard weren’t around last year and made sure to put their stamp on Tampa Bay’s latest title run. Savard set up Coleman’s goal midway through the second period past Canadiens stalwart Carey Price that fired up the crowd of over 17,000 fans at Amalie Arena.

The scene couldn’t have been any further from the mirthless, empty arena where the Lightning won the Cup last September in a quarantined bubble across the continent in Edmonton, Alberta. Tampa Bay joined Pittsburgh as the only back-to-back Cup winner in the salary-cap era, but even more impressively did it amid virus protocols with the shortest span between championships in the long history of the NHL.

Never losing twice in a row thanks to a combination of Vasilevskiy’s brilliance and one of the deepest rosters constructed since the cap was implemented in 2005, the Lightning solidified their status as a modern-day dynasty.

How deep? Nikita Kucherov had 32 points to join Mario Lemieux as the only players to lead the postseason in scoring two years in a row, and Brayden Point scored 14 goals through three rounds. Kucherov, Point and defenseman Victor Hedman all played through injuries, too.

It was just to much for the Canadiens, who relied again on Price to keep them in a game. He finished with 29 saves — one too few to prevent a Cup celebration for Tampa Bay.

The sunbelt franchise in a nontraditional market that didn’t even exist until 1992-93 went through the NHL’s most storied franchise to do it. The Lightning won the Cup for the third time in franchise history and denied Montreal a 25th league championship banner.

The Lightning also added another title for “Champa Bay,” with this title coming on the heels of Tom Brady leading the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory in February. The Tampa Bay Rays went to the World Series last fall.

Tampa Bay’s mayor had suggested the Lightning lose Game 4 on the road so they could win at home, and she got her wish as coach Jon Cooper’s team became the first since Chicago in 2015 to hoist the Cup on home ice.

That paved the way not only for fans to roar in approval but for families to join in the celebration, something that wasn’t possible in the bubble. Patrick Maroon became the fourth player in NHL history to win the Cup three years in a row with two teams while Kucherov joined Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky as the only players with 30-plus points in back-to-back playoffs.

The back-to-back title run was spurred by the adversity of the team overcoming the shock of getting swept by Columbus in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. They learned from each loss after that to build up a resolve that’s hard to maintain over as playoff hockey takes a toll.

The Canadiens ran out of gas in what was an otherwise surprise playoff run for a team that opened the postseason with the worst record of the 16 qualifiers. Montreal rallied from a 3-1 first-round series deficit against Toronto and eliminated Winnipeg and Vegas in reaching the final round for the first time since winning the Cup in 1993.
___
AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow contributed.
___
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

NHL

Zach-Wilson-New-York-Jets...
Jeremy Mauss

Unrivaled Bold, Stupid Predictions: Zach Wilson Done With Jets, NHL To Salt Lake

One of the big predictions is that former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has played his last game for the New York Jets.
4 days ago
Bobby-Hull-Chicago-Blackhawks-NHL...
Jay Cohen, AP

Hockey Hall Of Famer Bobby Hull, The Golden Jet, Dies At 84

Bobby Hull, a Hall of Fame winger and two-time NHL MVP who helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961, has died. He was 84.
9 days ago
Robin-Lehner-Vegas-Golden-Knights-NHL...
The Associated Press

Vegas Golden Knights Goalie Lehner Files For Bankruptcy, Cites $50M Debt

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner and his wife have filed for bankruptcy in Nevada, citing up to $50 million in debts.
23 days ago
2009-nhl-winter-classic...
TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer

NHL Winter Classic To Feature Seattle Hosting Vegas In 2024

Selling the NHL on bringing the 2024 Winter Classic to the Pacific Northwest required the purchase of a protection plan — a retractable roof.
1 month ago
NHL and MLB logos side by side...
Madisan Hinkhouse

Jazz Owner Ryan Smith Believes Utah Could Support Another Pro Sports Team

Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake owner Ryan Smith spoke candidly about the potential of another pro sports franchise in Utah.
4 months ago
Frozen-Fury...
Kyle Ireland

Salt Lake City Shows Out For Frozen Fury NHL Game

Hockey fans in the Beehive State showed out for the Frozen Fury preseason NHL game Vivint Arena between the Golden Knights and Kings.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
jimmy-buffett-tour-art...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Lightning Strikes Twice: Tampa Bay Repeats As Cup Champion