The redemption story is complete. For the first time since 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup Champions. The Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final by a score of 2-0 to win the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay was led by Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped all 22 shots he faced to lead his team to victory. The best team a year-ago who got bounced in the first round of the playoffs finally fulfilled their destiny as the best team in the National Hockey League. Tampa Bay was able to win without the services of Steven Stamkos, who played five shifts and scored one goal in the playoffs. The Lightning were led offensively by Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman. Point opened the scoring recording the game-winning goal with Blake Coleman adding a goal to lead the Lightning to victory.
Brayden Point Leads Tampa Bay Lightning To Stanley Cup Championship
It was a tentative start to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Stars and Lightning. Both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Anton Khudobin did not see many shots early on. As neither team wanted to be the first one to give up the first goal. However, it was the Lightning who took control of the game midway through the first period. The Lightning holding the shot edge 11-4. However, one noticeable thing is that the Stars were taking too many penalties. Even though the first penalty kill was successful. It did not remain that way for long. Eventually, the Lightning were going to score if the Stars kept taking penalties. On the second power-play of the game, the Lightning made the Stars pay. On a beautiful entry by Kucherov, he passes to a trailing Point, who has too much time and space. Brayden Point opens the scoring by picking up his rebound after his initial shot was stopped. Once the Lightning were able to open the scoring they were able to relax and take it to the Stars.
Early on Kucherov, Hedman, and Point made uncharacteristic mistakes. Dallas pressured Ondrej Palat, which led to a shorthanded opportunity on Vasilevskiy. That rush was led by Tyler Seguin, who fed Justin Dowling, who passed it to Miro Heiskanen jumping into the play. Heiskanen just missed the net, while Joe Pavelski just missed a rebound opportunity. Even though the Stars were trailing 1-0 after the first period, they built some positive energy for the second period.
The second period began at a much better pace than the first period. Teams were exchanging scoring chances with neither goalie backing down. Even though Vasilevskiy did not see as many shots as Khudobin, he still needed to remain sharp as the Lightning continued to hold a one-goal lead. As the Stars tried to take advantage of a Lightning change, it was the Lightning who got the last laugh. Pat Maroon intercepted an Alexander Radulov pass. As Maroon entered he dishes the puck off to Cedric Paquette, who slides the puck to a wide-open Coleman making it 2-0 Lightning. Coleman, who grew up in Plano, Texas watching the Stars, scored one of the biggest goals of his career. The Lightning continued to put the pressure on the Stars as they could taste victory. However, Dallas would not back down with their season on the line. But the Lightning dominated most of the period draining the Stars of any life.
Tampa Bay learned from their Game 5 mistake by not being tentative and playing strictly just defence. Instead, the Lightning took it took the Stars as the third period began. They knew they could not sit back and let the Stars dictate play. Once the puck was dropped on the third period the Lightning were on the puck. As the old saying goes the best defence is a good offence. The Lightning played a version of the neutral zone trap to keep the Stars chasing the puck into their end. Credit the Lightning for not allowing the Stars to get any offence going. Khudobin did his best, but the Lightning were just smothering the Stars in every turn. Even with a surge by the Stars in the third period, there was Vasilevskiy to close the door. Vasilevskiy had to work hard in the third period stopping all 14 shots he faced. Including several huge stops late in the period with the Stars on the power-play. In the end, the Lightning were just too much as they hung on to win the game and the Stanley Cup.
The Conn Smythe Trophy given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was awarded to Victor Hedman. Hedman recorded 21 points (10 goals and 11 assists) in 24 post-season games. Hedman’s 10 goals were the most goals for a defenceman since Brian Leetch recorded 11 goals in the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the New York Rangers.
His teammates Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point could have won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Point recorded 32 points (13 goals and 19 assists) in 22 post-season games. Kucherov recorded 33 points (seven goals and 26 assists) in 24 games. Kucherov set the record for most assists in a single post-season with 26 passing Wayne Gretzky who had recorded 24 in a single post-season.
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