Tampa Bay Lightning win Stanley Cup

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Taylor Tarman, Contributing Writer

On Sept. 28, 2020, the Tampa Bay Lightning struck victory against the Dallas Stars, winning the Stanley Cup. The Lightning’s star-studded lineup ended their season with a 2-0 score and six vigorous games. 

In Round One, the Lightning faced the Columbus Blue Jackets. Even though being in the Stanley Cup playoffs are stressful in itself, this round was especially stressful due to the fact that these same two teams had faced each other in round one of the playoffs last season. In that season, the Blue Jackets dominated against the Lightning, finishing Tampa’s season in just four games. 

This season, however, the tables turned. Tampa had clenched their round two spot by beating the Blue Jackets in five games. Game Five was the fourth longest playoff game in the history of the NHL, finishing at 5OT going for 90 minutes and 27 seconds. Brayden Point had scored the tie breaking goal, beating the Blue Jackets 3-2. This game is what changed the course for the Lightning and set them up for success for the rest of the season. 

Round Two didn’t consist of a year-long redemption, but it was still exhilarating to say the least. Tampa faced the Boston Bruins and advanced to round three after playing five games. In the fifth game, Kevin Shattenkirk passed beautifully to Victor Hedman, allowing him to score the game winning goal after playing up to the second OT. The final score of this round winning game was 3-2,  sending the Lightning to play in the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Islanders. 

The last time Tampa had been put in the situation of being possible conference champions was 2018 against the Washington Capitals. These conference finals were something to behold and a rollercoaster to watch. The Lightning faced the Islanders with aggression and competitiveness. This round had gone on for six games, and even though Tampa had clenched the conference title in game 6, there was a lot of pressure on the team going into that game. Game five had been won by New York in a double overtime. This loss for Tampa was very disappointing to the team but, in the words of Jon Cooper, the Lightning’s head coach, “Pressure is what you make of it,” and the Lightning took that pressure and made it victory in game six. 

Once Tampa was presented with the Wales Trophy, they took a controversial advance by touching it. It is often viewed as bad luck to touch the trophy before advancing to the Stanley Cup, but the Lightning did what others may steer away from (considering that, in 2015, they didn’t touch the trophy and ended up losing to the Blackhawks). In 2004, however, the team had decided to touch the Wales trophy before advancing to their first Stanley Cup ever. That same season, they won it all and hoisted the Stanley Cup high. 

The Lightning moved from Toronto to Edmonton after advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. Prepared to face the Dallas Stars, Tampa had something up their sleeve: Team captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos had injured his core muscle and needed surgery, causing him to be out for months. He had begun practicing again with the team again once his core muscle healed. Shortly after his return, he managed to get injured again in his lower body, creating more IR time. There had been rumors regarding Stamkos possibly being on the ice for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sure enough those rumors were proven true during game three. 

With only two minutes and 47 seconds of ice time throughout the whole playoff season, the captain had managed to score the second goal of the night, essentially changing the course for the rest of the game. That same game, the Lightning demolished the Stars, beating them five to two. Fast forward to game six, Tampa’s chance to take home the trophy. The Stars had beat them the game prior, and the Lightning were hungry for a chance to make history. Brayden Point and Blake Coleman had scored the only two goals of the game, causing the first and only shutout in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

And just like that, the Tampa Bay Lighting were the 2020 Stanley Cup champions. They were the first ever NHL team to win their whole entire season in a global pandemic, their names and numbers were inscribed into the shiny cup, and the celebrations began. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the team was unable to hold a regular parade throughout their city, but the players made small groups together and had their own boat parade in Tampa. They were able to abide by the Coronavirus guidelines and presented the Stanley Cup on a live broadcasted event at Raymond James stadium (where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play). 

This team persevered through several hardships throughout the playoff season. No fans, no family, no real “home ice advantage,” yet they still managed to come on top and win it all.