NHL Playoffs: Steven Stamkos leads Lightning to Stanley Cup Final
The NHL Playoffs have their Stanley Cup Final set as the Tampa Bay Lightning will face the Colorado Avalanche starting Wednesday night.
Bolts captain Steven Stamkos scored both goals in Game 6 as they defeated the New York Rangers by a 2-1 score. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 of 21 shots in the winning the effort.
They will now travel to Denver in search of their third straight title and the right to call themselves the best modern day dynasty in the NHL.
The last team to win three Cups were the New York Islanders, who won four straight from 1980-1983.
“You grew up as a kid, and I was not near good enough to play in this league. But growing up in Canada, you always dreamed about having your name on the Stanley Cup,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said via NHL.com. “And to get there the first time was, I mean, it was a dream come true. To get there a second time, like the next year, it was like a dream. Like there’s no way we’re going back, and to go a third time. Think about that. And you got to look at the players. And I sit back, and I’m just impressed. I’m impressed by them. It’s impressive what they’ve done.”
NHL Playoffs: Lightning 2 vs Rangers 1
Stamkos opened the scoring in the second period with a wicked shot using Rangers’ defenseman Ryan Lindgren as a partial screen. Igor Shesterkin, who was brilliant picked it up late and just missed it with his blocker.
Shesterkin is expected to take home the Vezina Trophy when winners are announced during the final. He made 29 saves in the contest and was the sole reason the Rangers were even in this contest.
Tampa out chanced the Rangers by a wide margin but the 26 year-old netminder was up to the task. His biggest saves came on two Anthony Cirelli breakaways, a Nikita Kucherov stop from in tight, and a huge cross-ice save on Brandon Hagel in the third period.
“I thought Igor was outstanding,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He gave us a chance to win every night. We got out-chanced in a lot of the games, but he was outstanding. He was our best player all year long and again in this series.”NHL.com
Frank Vatrano scored on the power play to tie the game in the third off a clean face-off win by Andrew Copp. Vasilevskiy barely moved when his blast beat him glove side.
However, the series clincher would come just 21 seconds later.
Poor neutral zone play caught both Rangers defensemen out of position. Kucherov led the rush and found Stamkos streaking to the net . His initial shot was stopped but the captain’s momentum and a juggling puck by Shesterkin went off Stamkos’ leg and in. After review the goal was allowed and the Lightning were on their way back to the Stanley Cup Final.
“I was just confident in our group that we would find a way, whether it was in regulation or was in overtime,” Stamkos said. “We deserved to win the game tonight. And that was the feeling that we had from puck drop throughout the game. Just keep going, our will is going to take over.”NHL.com