The Lightning are back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015
By Chris Bengel & Pete Blackburn CBS Sports
The Tampa Bay Lightning are heading to the Stanley Cup Final, where they’ll meet the Dallas Stars in a battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Lightning punched their ticket to the Final on Thursday night with a 2-1 overtime victory over the New York Islanders in Game 6, winning the series 4-2. Anthony Cirelli netted the game-winner in OT to send Tampa Bay to its first Stanley Cup Final since 2015, when they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Lightning certainly had control throughout the Eastern Conference Finals as they won the first two games of the series and outscored the Islanders 10-3 in those contests. However, the Islanders were able to come away victorious 5-3 in Game 3 and 2-1 in Game 5 to remain alive in the series.
The Isles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to a first period goal from defenseman Devon Toews, but that goal was quickly answered by one from Tampa’s Victor Hedman about two minutes later. What followed was a defensive stalemate for the rest of the night, though the Lightning did a good job of controlling play for most of the night. Semyon Varlamov was New York’s best player, making 46 saves in the losing effort.
Ultimately, the game-winning goal came off the stick of Cirelli as a lapse in coverage left him uncovered in front of the net 13:18 into overtime. His shot clanged off the post and slid along the goal line in dramatic fashion before redirecting off Varlamov’s pad and into the net.
As a result, it’s the Lightning claiming the Prince of Wales Trophy (they touched it, by the way) and moving on to face Dallas. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will begin on Saturday.