16 Years Later, Lord Stanley is Back in Tampa

Another National Hockey League season has finally concluded, but this one was like no other. After a near 5 month off period due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NHL returned to play to finish the 2019-20 season in the NHL Bubble Hub Cities in Edmonton and Toronto. At the end of it, only one team stood victorious, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning’s road to the cup was not easy. The last time Tampa won the cup was back in 2004 when at the time Martin St. Louis was developing into being the face of the franchise.
The past few seasons, they experienced many heartbreaks. It looked like 2015 was going to be their year, when 6’7 goalie, Ben “Big Ben” Bishop, was unstoppable that season. It didn’t end the way they wanted it to, losing in game six of the finals to the Chicago Blackhawks, who were in their time of one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports.
Over the next few years, it was just one heartbreak after another. They kept building their team to be even stronger than they already were. Bringing players to the team like Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde, Pat Maroon, acquiring defenseman Ryan McDonaugh and Mikhail Sergachev along with Forward Blake Coleman. Those players added to their roster with their superstars like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and many more dominant players. Not to mention, the best goalie in the NHL today, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Then came the 2018-2019 season, it was a record-setting year. Tying the Hockey record best 62 regular-season wins totaling 128 points, and easily winning the Presidents’ Trophy. Kucherov easily took home the Hart Trophy, regular-season MVP totaling 41 goals along with 128 points.
Unfortunately, the regular season isn’t what wins teams the Stanley Cup. The playoffs do, and they were looking promising. Facing off against one of the more young dominant teams the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they showed their dominance by eliminating the Lightning in the first round in a 4 game sweep.
After a year to reflect on that upset, the Lighting just got even hungrier. They stayed determined and rolled into the playoffs inside the NHL Bubble, earning the second seed in the East.
In the first round, they found themselves once again playing no one other than the Columbus Blue Jackets. This series did not have a sweep, but it did have a five Overtime Game which became the fourth-longest game in NHL History, that concluded with Brayden Point sniping one right past Joonas Korpisalo to win it.
Second round they played their division rival the Boston Bruins, who were without goaltender Tuukka Rask after he decided to leave just before Game three of Round one. After losing Game one, the Lighting woke up and won four straight games to advance to the East Finals for the fourth time in six years. They played the Islanders who haven’t made it to the East Finals in 27 years. At the end of that series, the Lightning would win it and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, their first trip there since 2015.
The Lightning would have to face the Dallas Stars who weren’t favored at all to win the West. Once the Lighting was down 1-0 in the series, they stormed back, won 3 straight, and took a commanding 3-1 lead.
Losing a close game five in double overtime, they had another shot to clinch a Stanley Cup win in Game six. Brayden Point and Blake Coleman were the only goal scorers. It wouldn’t be a Stanley cup winning game without a shutout, and that happened as Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded 22 saves on 22 shots.
As the final buzzer sounded, you heard the words, “The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Stanley Cup!” It was the first major championship win since the beginning of the pandemic and was a very historic moment that no one believed would have happened months before.
Tampa celebrated like never before, the city had been rocking all night long, and still is. It was a long wait, and they are enjoying every moment of this big win. As they march into next season, they look to defend the cup, as well as make a run to go back to back.

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