The Tampa Bay Lightning Hoist the 2020 Stanley Cup

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the champions of the NHL.

Brayden Point scored and the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Monday night to win the Stanley Cup and finish off the weirdest NHL postseason in history, played in quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It takes a lot to be in a bubble for 80 days or whatever long it was,” said the Conn Smythe Trophy-winning defenseman Victor Hedman. “But it’s all worth it now, we’re coming home with the Cup.”

“That last period was probably the longest period of my life,” Hedman said just before winning the MVP award. “There’s so many emotions at the same time.”

Nikita Kucherov dished out an assist, his playoff-leading 34th point and 27th assist, fifth highest in N.H.L. history behind only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Point’s goal came on the power play as he streaked down the slot, then picked up his own rebound and beat Stars goalie Anton Khudobin.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy played every minute in between the pipes for the Lightning and set a playoff record for minutes played. The old record was held by the Calgary Flames’ Miikka Kiprusoff, who was on the losing side in 2004 when the Lightning won their franchise’s only previous championship.

Coach Jon Cooper is currently the longest-tenured coach in the league. Under his leadership, the club has now made the playoffs in six of his seven full seasons, reaching the Eastern Conference finals twice and losing to Chicago in the 2015 Stanley Cup finals before finally finishing the job this year

“The bottom line is, there are some gifted people I guess, that success finds them instantly. But in a team sport, I truly believe that failure — you have to feel it before you can have success. \You wear the bumps, you wear the bruises, you wear the heartache,” Stamkos continued. “You wear the feelings, you wear it on your sleeve and it keeps you up at night, but it also drives you. And it almost becomes — the fear of losing becomes greater than the joy of winning, and we were not going to be denied.”

“Our players weren’t going to be denied. We got to get up here and talk about and own what happened last year, but the players took it on the chin, and I can’t be happier for those guys because they deserve it.”

“Coop” has now won the championship of every league he has coached in.

The Stars didn’t generate a shot on goal but kept pressing after pulling Khudobin for the extra attacker. After managing just eight shots in the first two periods, Dallas outshot Tampa Bay, 14-8, in the third, but Vasilevskiy stopped them all.

Point’s first-period goal proved to be the game-winner, and Coleman’s insurance tally came off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play at 7:01 of the second period. Assists on that goal went to Cedric Paquette and Pat Maroon, who stole the puck to start the play.

“The boys, you know, obviously with Covid, they came together as a group,” Maroon said. “We had a plan. They sacrificed, being away from their families and kids and I think it’s probably one of the hardest trophies to win. Obviously, we didn’t have family there, it was a little different this year, but it’s nice to celebrate with these boys.”

“The beauty of our team is everyone was chipping in,” Braden Point said. “We got tremendous depth. We got contributions from anyone and everyone at different times, and that’s what makes this win so special.”

“We knew what we were capable of, with our whole roster and we were just pretty thankful to get the opportunity to come back and play,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Right from Day 1 there, we were focused and dialed in, and now we can say mission accomplished which is a pretty incredible feeling.”

“I think we put our gear on with like three or four minutes left, we didn’t want to jinx anything,” Steven Stamkos said. “But just to be out there and celebrate with the guys. It’s something we talked about at the beginning of training camp, that it’s not just going to take 20 guys to win the Stanley Cup, it’s going to take every single guy who was in this bubble, and more. And I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”

“These last six weeks have been really emotional for my family and I, not only on the ice but off the ice,” said Stamkos, who played only 2:37 in the playoffs but scored a goal in Game 3. “I just want to say to my family: I love you guys so much. To all the friends and everyone who supported us along the way: We love you, we can’t wait to celebrate with you.”

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik called into their locker room celebration congratulating them for their second Stanley Cup championship in team history.

The Bolts are poised to win multiple Cups but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

For now, we’re off to the celebration.

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