One of the two Stanley Cup Final participants will end a title drought that has lasted well over a decade.
The Dallas Stars are in the championship series for the first time since 2000 and hoisted the cup in 1999 for the only time in franchise history. The Tampa Bay Lightning last participated in the title clash in 2015, but they have not finished the season with a victory since 2004.
Both franchises advanced inside the Edmonton, Alberta, hub through strong defensive performances in their conference finals against the Vegas Golden Knights and New York Islanders, respectively.
With both defensive units playing at a high level, Saturday's Game 1 could be a tight affair in which few goals are scored.
Stanley Cup Final Game 1 Information
Date: Saturday, September 19
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
To Win Stanley Cup
Tampa Bay: -177 (bet $177 to win $100)
Dallas: +155 (bet $100 to win $155)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Dallas and Tampa Bay did not allow more than two goals in any of their eight combined victories in the conference final stage.
The Lightning conceded a single tally to the Islanders in three of their four wins, including the series-clinching Game 6 that was decided in overtime. Dallas also found success in overtime games, as it won Games 3 and 5 over Vegas in the extra period. The Stars allowed two goals in each of those contests.
Dallas could hold a slight advantage when it comes to fitness since they closed out the Western Conference Final on Monday. Since then, the Lightning played three overtime periods in the final two games of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Stars have not had this much rest since arriving in the Edmonton hub at the end of July, winning their previous two series openers off a day of rest.
The Western Conference champions' defense cranked up another level when it reached the conference final stage. The Stars limited Vegas to eight goals in five games. In their previous series against the Colorado Avalanche, they let in eight tallies in the final two contests.
Although the games occurred in December and January, Dallas has a game plan to beat the Lightning. Rick Bowness' team won the head-to-head meetings December 19 and January 27 by a goal each in overtime.
Although plenty appears to be going against the Lightning ahead of Game 1, they should find comfort in the amount of attacking chances they have created. In Game 6, Tampa Bay threw 48 shots on Semyon Varlamov's net and came close to doubling the Islanders' output.
Dallas averaged 23.6 shots per game in the Western Conference Final, and if it does not find a way to limit Tampa Bay's scoring potential, it may end up on the wrong end of the Game 1 result.
If the matchup turns out to be fairly even, Tampa Bay may have a slight advantage when it comes to playing as a group in the Stanley Cup Final. Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Cedric Paquette and Andrei Vasilevskiy all featured together in the 2015 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Dallas has players on its roster who have been to the Stanley Cup Final, but not as a group. So Tampa Bay's shared experience may help to calm nerves and give it an edge in critical moments.