The Tampa Bay Lightning finally fulfilled their potential on Monday night, blanking the Dallas Stars 2-0 to win the Stanley Cup in the NHL’s Edmonton bubble.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves to record a shutout, while Brayden Point and Blake Coleman supplied the scoring to finish off the six-game Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay Lives Up to Expectations
The Stars stayed alive by surviving a double-overtime thriller on Saturday. But that only delayed the celebrations for Tampa Bay, which finally secured a title after falling short as a Stanley Cup favorite over the past two seasons. The Lightning have now won two Stanley Cups in franchise history, previously doing so in the 2003-2004 season.
“You wear the bumps, you wear the bruises, you wear the heartache, you wear the feelings, you wear it on your sleeve and it keeps you up at night. But it also drives you,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said after the win. “The fear of losing almost becomes greater than the joy of winning. And we were not going to be denied.”
Defenseman Victor Hedman earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s postseason MVP.
“I never in my dreams thought that I would win the Stanley Cup,” Hedman said. “It’s so unrealistic. It’s what you dream of when you play on the streets back home when you’re growing up.”
Tampa Bay started the Stanley Cup Final as a -195 favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. But the Stars came into the series on a high after an unlikely playoff run. Dallas defeated the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights to earn their spot in the finals. The Stars consistently came up big late in games, going 6-1 in overtime throughout the postseason.
Bowness: ‘Proud’ of Stars Despite Defeat
Dallas never got that chance on Monday, however, as the Lightning dominated the game from the start.
“I know our players weren’t very good for 40 minutes,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness told reporters. “They didn’t let us get going. But I’m proud of our players. They left everything on the ice. No one expected us to get here, but we believed in ourselves.”
Bowness also reflected on the difficulty of playing professional hockey in a secure environment.
“As we went along, all the tough times living life in a bubble, you kind of move along from it and you get ready for the next series. Fortunately, we kept winning. That helped,” Bowness said. “When you’re competing for the Stanley Cup, it doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter the conditions. It’s been well worth it to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”
The Lightning will enter the 2020-2021 season as a legitimate contender to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. FanDuel lists the Colorado Avalanche as the +750 favorite to take the next title, but the Lightning and Golden Knights are next on the board at +950. Dallas opened as the 10th choice at +2000.