By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
For the second time in franchise history, and for the first time since 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning are on top of the National Hockey League as the league’s Stanley Cup champions.
After failing to close out the series in Game 5, which extended with a double-overtime loss that gave the Dallas Stars extended life, the Lightning put Anton Khudobin and the Stars to bed by way of a 2-0 shutout in Game 6.
Brayden Point put the Lightning on the board with a first-period power-play goal gift-wrapped by an ugly Khudobin rebound, while Blake Coleman extended the lead to two with a second-period goal that beat a sliding Khudobin.
The Stars, meanwhile, went 0-for-3 on the man advantaged and countered the Tampa Bay attack with just 22 shots on Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, who recorded his first career playoff shutout in the Cup-clinching affair.
Defenseman Victor Hedman took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2020 playoffs. The 6-foot-6 Hedman finished the postseason with 10 goals and 22 points (fifth-most in hockey), and averaged a staggering 26:28 of time on ice per game, which was the most among any defenseman who advanced out of the first round of play.
The Bolts’ win also means that for the second year in a row, the Boston Bruins were the eliminated from postseason play by the eventual champions. In 2019 it came by way of a home-ice loss to the Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, while the Lightning made quick work of the Bruins in a five-game, second-round series victory in the Toronto bubble.
Up next for the NHL, which aims to begin next year sometime in late December or early January, is a rapid-fire offseason that begins with next week’s 2020 NHL Draft, and a free agency window that opens just days after that.