EDMONTON, Alberta – Blake Coleman and Brayden Point scored goals, the defense – as did most of the postseason – showed depth and determination and the Tampa Bay Lightning clinched their elusive second Stanley Cup on Monday night, defeating the Dallas Stars , 2-0, in game 6.
The talented Lightning, one of the best teams in the league not to win the title in the past five years, has finally completed the complicated puzzle of the Stanley Cup playoffs, securing their first championship since 2004. They defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, the league’s No.1 team in the regular season, and the New York Islanders before taking out the Stars in a manic marathon through two Canadian bubble sites that featured more overtime and loads of drama.
Tampa Bay ̵
On Monday, at least, Tampa Bay played like it didn’t need him. Point, becoming a superstar in his own right, scored a power-play goal in the first with the assists of longtime champions Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, and Coleman, an expired trade pickup from the New Jersey Devils, killed a penalty and scored on a weird man run in the second. And goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy did his job on the net, anchoring his team to the title.
“That last period was probably the longest period of my life,” Hedman said in a post-game interview on NBC. “There are so many emotions at the same time.”
The stars, who survived with a dramatic overtime win in Game 5 on Saturday night, continued to hurt themselves with penalties. Miro Heiksanen was in the box for Point’s goal. The Stars took two penalties in the first 12 minutes and three in total in Game 6 after committing only one in Game 5. And Lightning’s power play made them pay.
Tampa Bay made two line-up changes following the defeat in Game 5, with defender Zach Bogosian returning and replacing Jan Rutta and striker Alexander Volkov replacing Carter Verhaeghe. It is Volkov’s career debut in the playoffs and the first NHL game since February 13, bringing fresh legs to the Lightning in the third game in four nights.
Veteran defender Andrej Sekera played for the Stars two nights after blocking a shot and missing a point and a half before returning. Dallas has already lost forwards Roope Hintz, Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau, defender Stephen Johns and goalkeeper Ben Bishop during the postseason.
Stamkos was with the team in the arena, but he didn’t dress up for the finale.
“He did everything he could to go back and made him come back and sadly he couldn’t go any further,” said Lightning manager Jon Cooper.
The Lightning, who defeated the Calgary Flames in 2004 to win the title, lost in the Cup final to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 in their final appearance in the final round.
Last season, as number 1 seeded in the league, Tampa Bay lost in the first round to Columbus, setting the stage for this season of redemption.
“We’re a different group,” Hedman said. “And it takes a lot to do it, but let’s go home with the Cup.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.