Lightning Win 2nd Straight Stanley Cup Title With Game 5 Win vs. Canadiens

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 8, 2021

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ross Colton (79) scores on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack)
AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack

The Tampa Bay Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup Final champions after beating the visiting Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 on Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

Lightning center Ross Colton's goal at 13:27 of the second period was all Tampa Bay needed to secure the 4-1 series win in the best-of-seven matchup. David Savard and Ryan McDonagh contributed the assists. 

NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports

THERE IT IS!<br><br>THE LIGHTNING BREAK THE ICE IN GAME 5. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBolts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBolts</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/iVeWIE6RXL">pic.twitter.com/iVeWIE6RXL</a>

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

Savard finds Colton for this beauty 🀩 <a href="https://t.co/Wb9RcIgFoQ">pic.twitter.com/Wb9RcIgFoQ</a>

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves en route to his fifth shutout this postseason. He made a pair of saves in the final minute as the Canadiens pressed Tampa Bay's end with an extra attacker after pulling goaltender Carey Price.

The Lightning became just the second team this century to win back-to-back Cups. The Pittsburgh Penguins also did so in 2016 and 2017.


Notable Performances

Lightning C Ross Colton: 1 G

Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov: 5 SOG

Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy: 22 SV

Canadiens RW Josh Anderson: 3 SOG


Vasilevskiy Leads the Way in Series-Clinching Win...Again

The Lightning are on top of the hockey world once again, and Vasilevskiy made sure of it with another spotless effort.

Not only did Vasilevskiy earn his fifth 2021 postseason shutout on Wednesday, but he also earned his fifth straight shutout in series-clinching games.

It's a remarkable accomplishment for the well-deserved Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

Andrei Vasilevskiy was a force to be reckoned with through the 2021 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> Playoffs and is the winner of the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy. <br> <br>πŸ₯… First goaltender born outside North America to win <br>πŸ‡·πŸ‡Ί Third Russian-born player to win <br> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLStats?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLStats</a>: <a href="https://t.co/VdjE3MxYOB">https://t.co/VdjE3MxYOB</a> <a href="https://t.co/UQfakgu2Cd">pic.twitter.com/UQfakgu2Cd</a>

He only allowed eight goals during the Stanley Cup Final, and he ended with five of the 12 total shutouts by goaltenders this postseason, per Dimitri Filipovic of The Hockey PDOcast.

Chris Fallica of College Gameday broke down his performances in three notable games:

Chris Fallica @chrisfallica

Andrei Vasilevskiy this postseason<br><br>G6 vs CAR - 29 saves in 2-0 road win. Game was 1-0 for 26:50 from 2nd to mid 3rd <br><br>G7 vs NYI - made a 1-0 lead stand up for 38:11 in a 1-0 win to reach Cup Final <br><br>G5 vs MTL - made a 1-0 lead stand up for 27:33 in a 1-0 game to win Stanley Cup

Mathematician Micah Blake McCurdy also showcased just how good Vasilevskiy was in the playoffs:

Micah Blake McCurdy @IneffectiveMath

Vasilevskiy for the playoffs all up: 35 GA on 53.2 xG, for +18.2 goals saved more than an nhl average goalie over the course of 22 games. <a href="https://t.co/SuHFUcW1gL">pic.twitter.com/SuHFUcW1gL</a>

And Kevin Neghandi of ESPN pointed out that the Lightning netminder was 14-0 following losses in the playoffs over the last two years.

Vasilevskiy was not tested too often in Game 5 as he faced just 22 shots, but he made some huge saves along the way, perhaps none more important than this stop on right wing Josh Anderson:

NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports

VASY SAID NO. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBolts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBolts</a> <a href="https://t.co/zUTc3bjSSm">pic.twitter.com/zUTc3bjSSm</a>

He also held strong in the end of the game as Montreal maintained pressure in Tampa Bay's end, but nothing came of it as the Canadiens were kept off the board.


Ross Colton Is the Latest Unsung Lightning Hero

The Lightning have received key contributions from their entire lineup this postseason, but seeing the lone goal emerge Sunday from some new unsung heroes was still a bit surprising.

Colton, Savard and McDonagh combined to score 24 regular-season points. For context, eight Lightning players scored more than that amount by themselves.

That trio also had 16 total points in the playoffs before Game 5. Of note, five Lightning players had 17 or more playoff points prior to Wednesday.

And yet those aforementioned three players were the only ones to score any points at all in Game 5.

The Lightning have tremendous star power, with names like Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman routinely delivering for the back-to-back champions.

However, the team runs deep, and the Lightning's excellent depth has proven to be their opponents' downfall at times. Pete Blackburn of Bally Sports noted that the Lightning's top players weren't hitting the goalsheet of late, but it didn't particularly matter.

Pete Blackburn @PeteBlackburn

Last five goal-scorers of the Lightning's Stanley Cup run...<br><br>-Ross Colton<br>-Pat Maroon<br>-Barclay Goodrow<br>-Blake Coleman (EN)<br>-Tyler Johnson

Wednesday was no exception.

Colton, a rookie who tied the Canadiens' Cole Caufield for the most goals by a first-year player in this season's playoffs (four), was one of only two players on the roster without a Cup before Wednesday. Per ESPN's Emily Kaplan, that duo consists of Colton and Savard.

Colton also made some notable history along the way:

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

Ross Colton will have his name both on the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> and in the NHL record book as only the seventh rookie to score a Cup-clinching goal. Only one other has also done in the past 90 years.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLStats?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLStats</a>: <a href="https://t.co/eH4uig1TYJ">https://t.co/eH4uig1TYJ</a> <a href="https://t.co/pYLGRlMOrC">pic.twitter.com/pYLGRlMOrC</a>

Hockey writer Chris Peters noted that Colton didn't exactly have a easy and direct route to the pros either:

Chris Peters @chrismpeters

Ross Colton, the latest of Tampa Bay's "yeah, we found this guy," drafted in his last year of draft eligibility out of Cedar Rapids in the USHL. Played two years at Vermont, got into Tampa's pro player factory in Syracuse and rounded out just in time to score Stanley Cup clincher

But the Lightning's strength is in their tremendous depth up and down the roster. Players like Colton have made the difference in this postseason, and now Tampa Bay is celebrating its second straight Stanley Cup.