Image Courtesy of Raw Charge

By Garrett Farrell

On Monday, September 28 at 7 p.m., Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals began. After an hour of fierce competition, the Tampa Bay Lightning emerged as the victors of the match, which earned them the right to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2004. The six-game series between the Lightning and the Dallas Stars was a joy to watch and had its fair share of thrilling games. 

The first game of the series appeared to indicate that there would be a much different result than what actually happened. The Stars won the match 4-1 and shut out the Lightning for the last two periods of the match. Four different players scored goals for the Stars as they took an early lead in the series.

The second game of the series was much closer and saw the Lightning even the series count by notching a 3-2 win. However, this game was somehow much closer than the score indicates: the Lightning scored all of their points in the first period and had to stave off a late rally by the Stars to secure the win. If it weren’t for a masterful performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy, this match could have easily gone the other way. 

Game 3was a bona fide massacre, as the Lightning sprinted out to a 5-1 lead by the end of the second period, and only allowed a single goal in the last period to take a series lead of 2-1. Amazingly, no player on the Lightning scored more than one goal, which is a great indicator of the depth of the team, and a reminder that in the 2018-19 season this team set the record for the most regular-season wins.

In contrast to the systematic dismantling of the Stars defense that was Game 3, games four and five were almost too close. The games had a combined 14 goals scored and three overtimes a piece. The Game 4 was a back and forth battle where neither team appeared distinctly better than the other; the Lightning came out of it with a 5-4 single overtime win to take control of the series with a 3-1 lead. For reference, no team has overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the Stanley Cup finals since 1942 when the Toronto Maple Leaves came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings. 

Game 5 was another back and forth battle, however, it was much more reserved than Game 4; after three periods, the teams were tied at two goals apiece, and the first period of overtime went scoreless. The deciding goal was scored nine-and-a-half minutes into the second period of overtime; John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin assisted Corey Perry to make the series deficit a respectable 3-2. They would not level the series.

In Game 6, the Lightning put on a masterclass of defense, as Vasilevskiy saved 22 out of 22 shots on goal, leading the Lightning to a 2-0 win. This dominant defensive performance by the Lightning won them the series 4-2, and earned the franchise its second Stanley Cup title. 

Though the run-up to this Stanley Cup was anything but normal, the finals of the tournament seemed to make up for some of it. The coronavirus failed to have an impact on the quality of play that was witnessed in the bubble, and ultimately, it gave us this final, which is surely one for the ages.

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