Tampa Bay Lightning Advance to Stanley Cup Finals

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been in unfinished business mode ever since losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, Anthony Cirelli scored the game-winning overtime goal for Tampa Bay with 6:42 remaining in overtime as they defeated the New York Islanders 2-1.

Cirelli’s goal was assisted by Barclay Goodrow and Alex Killorn. 13:18 time elapsed in the first overtime session. Anthony Cirelli didn’t have the prettiest goals by any means. It was like a double doink and Semyon Varlamov never saw it.

This was very similar to the shot in Game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA where Kawhi Leonard double doinked a shot to win the basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers for the Toronto Raptors and eventually went on to win the NBA Championship in six games against the Golden State Warriors though.

Also, this is the first time since 2015 that Tampa Bay is in the Stanley Cup Finals. They lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. This time around, the Lightning will look to win the Stanley Cup Title against the Dallas Stars.

Ben Bishop is on the Dallas Stars roster, but he isn’t playing due to injury. Bishop was the starting goalie, but Anton Khudobin has been the starter and Jake Oettinger is the backup.

Bishop was the starting goalie for Tampa Bay in 2015 and he played on a torn groin. Ben Bishop was traded to Dallas near the trade deadline in 2017 in order for Andrei Vasilevskiy to be the full-time starter in net though.

The other goals that were scored in this game were both in the first period. Devon Toews scored a wrap-around goal just 4:15 into the game. It was assisted by Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal. It was the first shot of the game. They were outshot in the game 48-27.

The other goal that was scored in the first-period was by Victor Hedman at just 6:28 into the first-period. It was assisted by Austin Cernak and Nikita Kucherov.

Kucherov is the heart and soul of this Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. He is one of the best players in the NHL.

Andrei Vasilevskiy finished this game with 26 saves for Tampa Bay.

He made a huge save on Brock Nelson in overtime on a fastbreak. Had Vasilevskiy not stopped it, it would have been a shorthanded goal and there would have been a Game 7 and it would have been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC.

Also, after the game was over, defenseman Victor Hedman and captain Steven Stamkos decided to touch the Prince of Whales Trophy. Hedman felt like this was an easy decision this time around because they didn’t do it the last time and they felt like it didn’t work.

On the other hand, Tampa Bay has not won the Stanley Cup Title since the 2004 season in seven games against the Calgary Flames. Those were the days of Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. John Tortorella was the head coach then though.

The Dallas Stars have not won the Stanley Cup Title since 1999 in six games against the Buffalo Sabres. Dallas has not been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2000 against the New Jersey Devils. The Stars lost to them in six games. Those were the days of Ed Belfour and Mike Madano. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach then.

Tampa Bay has been to the Eastern Conference Finals four times in the past six seasons though. They lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and the Washington Capitals in 2018 and both of those series lasted seven games though.

Brayden Point was important for Tampa Bay in this game. They were 4-0 in this series when he played and they were 0-2 when he didn’t. The Tampa Bay Lightning has a ton of success with him in the lineup despite not having captain Steven Stamkos for even a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs though.

Head Coach Jon Cooper and Head Coach Rick Bowness will have both of their clubs ready to go for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning, which begins on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC, at Rogers Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

What do you think of the Tampa Bay Lightning advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2015 though? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Glenn Kaplan on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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