Lightning vs. Canadiens: Game 5 Stats, Highlights from Series-Clinching GameJuly 8, 2021
During their run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Montreal Canadiens pulled off several upsets. They overcame adversity and staged unlikely comebacks. However, this time was different. The Tampa Bay Lightning were far too dominant.
The Lightning successfully completed their quest to repeat as Stanley Cup champions Wednesday night, beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 at Amalie Arena. After winning the Cup once in its first 27 seasons as an NHL franchise, Tampa Bay has now won two in two seasons.
Not only that, but the Lightning's back-to-back Cup wins also came less than a year apart. They won it in September in the NHL bubble, defeating the Dallas Stars in a season that had been paused because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This time, Tampa Bay's fans got to join in on the celebration as soon as the final horn sounded. And even better for them, the Cup-clinching victory came on the Lightning's home ice.
Here's a look back at the final game of this year's Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy: 22 saves, zero goals allowed
Tampa Bay forward Ross Colton: one goal, one shot
Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh: one assist, one shot
Tampa Bay defenseman David Savard: one assist, two shots
Montreal goaltender Carey Price: 29 saves, one goal allowed
There wasn't much offense in Game 5. With Vasilevskiy and Price as the goaltenders, that's what many expected this series to look like. It wasn't always the case, especially as the Lightning dominated early on, but the final contest of the series met those expectations.
Because of how strong Vasilevskiy has been in the net, Tampa Bay wasn't going to need much offense to close out this series—especially considering that the 26-year-old goaltender continually plays his best in the biggest moments of a playoff series.
The only puck that got into the net Wednesday night came off the stick of the rookie Colton, who had scored three previous goals this postseason but none since Game 5 of the Lightning's second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Colton redirected a puck in front of the net past Price, putting Tampa Bay ahead with six minutes, 33 seconds to go in the second period:
According to the NHL, Colton is only the seventh rookie to score a Stanley Cup-clinching goal—the New Jersey Devils' Mike Rupp (2003) is the only other player to have done that in the past 90 years.
But this series belonged to Vasilevskiy. He had a tremendous postseason, and he took his game to another level on the biggest stage. Over the five-game series against the Canadiens, Vasilevskiy allowed only eight goals and collected 132 saves.
That impressive performance earned Vasilevskiy the Conn Smythe Trophy. He's the 14th goaltender to win the award and the first since the Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick in 2012.
Vasilevskiy ensured that the one goal the Lightning scored Wednesday night would be enough. The Canadiens pulled Price late, and they had the puck behind the Tampa Bay net in the closing seconds.
However, the Lightning's defense clamped down and prevented the Habs from getting off a final shot, clearing the puck to the other end of the ice. Before the Canadiens could bring it back down, the clock ran out and Tampa Bay had secured another Cup victory:
"[Vasilevskiy's] compete level is as high as it can be," Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov said, per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press. "I remember him when he was 16. He was always the guy that cares about the game and wants to be better and he wants to be No. 1. And, as we can see, he is."
It hadn't been too long since a team had completed a Stanley Cup repeat, as the Pittsburgh Penguins won it in both 2016 and 2017. However, it's been much longer since a team has had a three-peat. The most recent team to do it was the New York Islanders, who won four straight Cups from 1980-83.
With how impressive the Lightning were throughout the postseason, it's only fitting that their final victory was one of their most dominant. And it showed exactly why Tampa Bay again made it to this point.