Tampa Bay Lightning won second straight Stanley Cup title, beating Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5.
When the Tampa Bay Lightning had their first chance to clinch the Stanley Cup championship in the 2020 playoff bubble, Jon Cooper recalls how he let his mind drift to what the celebration would be like.
“You’re thinking about raising the Stanley Cup, what’s it going to be like after, lifelong dreams, who’s going to get the drink out of it,” he said. “That’s called channeling your energy in the wrong direction.”
After missing their chance to sweep the Montreal Canadiens, Cooper and the Lightning were only steeled further by another dispiriting loss. In a familiar way, too: Motivated by just the latest aggravating defeat throughout the past two playoffs, the Lightning came back two nights later and won the Stanley Cup with a gritty, 1-0 win on Wednesday night.
It put an exclamation point on a second consecutive championship and third overall that was made possible by stumbles along the way. This extraordinary repeat, with each title coming in the midst of a pandemic, was filled with lessons learned.
Cooper said “it’s a journey” to win, and the mile markers along the way were losses: Game 5 of the final to Dallas 10 months ago before winning the Cup in six. Superstar Nikita Kucherov sitting out for the entire regular season after hip surgery. An overtime heartbreaker in the potential semifinal clincher against the New York Islanders. And then that OT loss in Montreal with the Cup in the building.
Backstopped by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy posting another shutout in a clinching game and going undefeated after losses, Tampa Bay showed the resolve of a champion.