Tampa, Fla.— After the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Wednesday night inside the Amalie Arena to end the series in five, captain Steve Stamkos lifted the Cup in front of 18,110 fans — 18,110 more than the last time he hoisted it back in September.
The sole goal of the night came from winger Ross Colton just over six minutes into the second period, as he slid a pass from David Savard around the back of Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
“Full arena, incredible energy and another championship in Tampa,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “It feels like things are normal.”
Winning has become a way of life for Tampa Bay, who made this run by relying on their playoff MVP goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and the only two Lightning players on the ice without their names on the Stanley cup.
It was a familiar feeling for the back-to-back champions, even if it was a lot different this year.
Vasilevskiy had a series-ending shutout for an NHL-record fifth consecutive time dating to the 2020 final. He made 22 saves to remain undefeated in games after a loss over the past two playoffs, both of them won by Tampa Bay in the pandemic.
“It’s so hard to win the Stanley Cup,” Stamkos said. “And then you do it two years in a row, you deserve to go down in history.”
Ross Colton and David Savard weren’t around last year and made sure to put their name on Tampa Bay’s latest title run. Savard Colton kept the pressure on the Canadiens for three periods.
“To do it in front of our fans and our families, it’s so special, special,” defenseman Victor Hedman said. “It’s out of this world.”
The Lightning joined Pittsburgh as the only back-to-back Cup winner in the salary cap era, but even more impressively did it in the shortest span between championships in the long history of the NHL.
In 2021, Tampa Bay repeated to become the fastest team ever to win consecutive titles, doing so by a margin of nearly three months
Nikita Kucherov had 32 points to join Mario Lemieux as the only players to lead the postseason in scoring two years in a row, and Brayden Point scored 14 goals through three rounds. Kucherov, Point and Hedman all played through injuries throughout the playoffs.
The Lightning was just too much for Montreal, who relied again on Price to keep them in a game — and the series. He finished with 29 saves.
The sunbelt franchise in a nontraditional market that didn’t even exist until 1992-93 went through the NHL’s most storied franchise to win this one. The third championship in franchise history denied Montreal a 25th league championship banner.
“We didn’t get a chance to do that last year,” Stamkos said. “This is redemption for them to be able to spend this time with us. We wanted to win in Game 4. It didn’t work out. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise we got to do it front of our amazing fans.”
Montreal ran out of gas in what was a surprise playoff run for a team that opened the postseason with the worst record of the 16 qualifiers.
“The resilience that we showed: just a good team to be a part of,” Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher said. “As painful as this is right now, sometimes you need to feel this to call yourself the champion.”
The Lightning was without veteran forward Alex Killorn, who broke his left fibula blocking a shot in Game 1 of the final, had surgery last week and still wanted to play. He joined his teammates for a celebration like last year. He took everything in on the ice.
“It’s like we won two completely different Stanley Cups, and that’s what makes it extremely special for us,” coach Jon Cooper said. “You do one without fans and then you do one in your own building: We couldn’t have written the script any better.”