Lightnings Win Their Second Stanley Cup

Lightnings+Win+Their+Second+Stanley+Cup

By — Joey Hudson

Photo curtesy — Josh Appel on unsplash.com

After five months of being away due to the National Hockey League suspending the sport because of COVID-19, the NHL made its comeback at the beginning of August. However, due to the sport abruptly stopping when there were still more games to play in the regular season, and with not enough time to finish those games in order to progress into the next season, the NHL made the decision to have the 24 teams with the highest points compete for the Stanley Cup instead of the regular 16 teams. The 16 teams with the lowest points would compete against each other in the “play-in rounds”, where a team would go against another team from their same conference to fight for a spot in the playoffs. The other 8 teams that had the highest points, 2 of each being from the same division, would be safe from elimination and played in a Round Robin against each other to determine who their opponents would be in the first round, where they would then become prone to elimination. At the end of the tournament, the final round consisted of the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division against the Dallas Stars from the Western Conference and Central Division. After 6 games, the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to overcome the Dallas Stars, making the Lightnings the winners of the 2019-2020 playoffs and getting their franchise their 2nd Stanley Cup win since 2004. 

The Lightnings started their journey to the cup by being one of the eight qualified teams, playing in the Round Robin against the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, winning both games with the same score of 3-2. They then played against the Philadelphia Flyers in their final match in the Round Robin, losing to the team with a score of 4-1, making the Lightnings place 2nd overall in the Round Robin with 4 points from their two winning games. With their 2nd placement, the Lightning were scheduled to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who won their way into the playoffs by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blue Jackets didn’t oppose any threat to the Lightning however, and took the team down in 5 games with the Blue Jackets winning only 1 out of the 5 games. 

In the 2nd round for the playoffs, the Lightning had to face their next opponent team, the Boston Bruins, who they played against earlier in the Round Robin. The Bruins, who played against the North Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs, are a notorious team in the NHL franchise, mostly known for their aggressive gameplay along with the team having one of the most disliked players in the entire league, Brad Marchand. However, even with their bad reputation among many hockey fans, the team placed first overall during the preseason, getting a combined total of 100 points with 44 out of 70 wins. In their first game with the Bruins, the Lightnings fell short to the Bruins, with a score of 3-2. Even with their shortcoming, the Lightning bounced back from their defeat, winning their next game against the Bruins during overtime with the final score being 4-3. After that close win, Tampa Bay continued their momentum and won games 4 and 5, defeating Boston and advancing them to the Conference Finals.

With the Lightning almost shutting down their last two opponents, the next team they would have to face is the New York Islanders, who have proven to be a dominating team throughout the playoffs. With their head coach Barry Trotz, the Islanders were able to qualify themselves into the playoffs after defeating the Florida Panthers in 4 games. They were then put to faceoff against the Washington Capitals, who were manys pick to win the Stanley Cup, who had a reputation for their dominating offense. The Islanders, however, were able to swiftly take down the Capitals in 5 games due to the teams offensive and defensive prowess. After taking down the Capitals, the Islanders faced the Philadelphia Flyers, who were another favored team to win the cup. After many back-and-forth games between the two teams, the Islanders were able to take down the Flyers in the seventh and final game with a score of 4-0. In the teams first two games, the Lightning overcame the Islanders with a score of 8-2 in the first game and a score of 2-1 in the second game. With two losses under their belt, the Islanders were able to get the teams first win of the round, crushing the Lightning with the final score being 5-3. In game 4, the Lightning were able to strike back against New York, defeating the team with a score of 4-1. The Lightning were currently leading the Islanders at this point, with the team’s wins being 3-1, making it only one win away for the Lightning to make it into the Stanley Cup Finals. In game 5, the Islanders were not going to give up easily, with both teams managing to get one goal each and forcing the Lightning to head into overtime. While the Lightnings were the more dominant and aggressive team, the Islanders goalie, Semyon Varlamov, was able to keep the team alive by not allowing any goals to go past him, and eventually, the Islanders right winger Jordan Eberle was able to score a goal in overtime 2, forcing a game 6 to happen. In game 6, the Lightning continued to be the more offensive team, taking shot after shot at the Islanders goal. Even with all of the Lightning’s shooting, the Islanders defense and goalie managed to hold their ground and send the game to another overtime, with the score being 1-1. Even with all of the Islanders defense and saves, the Lightning proved to be too resilient, and managed to score against the Islanders in overtime with 6:42 minutes remaining on the cup. With this one, the Lightnings moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Lightning had to face their final opponent, the Dallas Stars, who were able to take down the difficult teams such as the Calgary Flames in Game 6, the Colorado Avalanches in Game 7, with a close game of 5-4 in overtime, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who they defeated in Game 5. Coming into the Finals, many predicted for the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup, however, the majority of the support from other franchises went to the Dallas Stars, as they were seen as the underdog and because the Stars overcame a lot of obstacles during all of their matches. Similar to some of their previous games with the Islanders, the Lightning continued to possess the puck the majority of the game and shot more goals than the Stars. Even though the Lightning managed to shoot an impressive 36 shots on the Stars goal compared to the Stars 19 shots, the Stars were able to pull an upset against the Lightning, winning the first game with a score of 4-1. In the second game, the two teams managed to stay even and consistent throughout the game with the amount of shots against the goal, however, the Lightning proved that they were the better team that game, winning the second game with a score of 3-2, making the series tied 1-1. The Lightning continued their momentum from Game 2 and brought it into Games 3 and 4, winning both and making the series 3-1, favoring the Lightning. During Game 5, the Lightning brought their effective strategy of playing a critically offensive game, shooting a total of 41 shots on goal against the Stars. While the amount of shots were impressive, the Dallas’ Stars, similar to the Islanders goalie, continued to deflect shot after shot, and only allowing 2 shots to go past him. However, the 2 goals wouldn’t matter, as the Stars were able to take down the Lightning in overtime with a score of 3-2 against Tampa Bay, 2 goals being from the Star’s right winger Corey Perry. The series was 3-2 Lightning going into Game 6, and while the Stars just came off a close game against the Lightning, the Stars were finally overpowered from the Lightning, losing in Game 6 of the series and crowning the Tampa Bay Lightning the winners of the 2019-2020 Stanley Cup, making this their 2nd Stanley Cup win.