TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Rangers two to one in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday at Amalie Arena.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored two goals to ensure his team's hunt for a "three-peat" is very well alive, including the game-winning goal 32 seconds after the Rangers equalized in the third period.
After being crowned champions of the Eastern Conference, the Bolts will now take on the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final.
Colorado defeated the Edmonton Oilers in a clean sweep fashion to become champions of the Western Conference Final.
Tampa Bay is now the eighth franchise to make three or more consecutive appearances in the history of the National Hockey League.
However, only three teams have won the major trophy in three consecutive years, including the Toronto Maple Leafs (1947-49), the Montreal Canadiens (1956-60, 1976-79) and the New York Islanders (1982-1982).
The Bolts will feel confident about becoming the fourth team to reach such accomplishment after displaying dominant performances against the Rangers and the team will hope to keep that momentum going when they face the Avalanche.
Puck drop for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is scheduled at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at Ball Arena in Denver.
10 Tampa Bay will keep you up to date with the latest score during the game.
0:00 Third period ends as Bolts win Game 6!
6:32 Goal! Steven Stamkos scores again to put the Bolts back on top, 2-1! Assisted by Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov
6:53 Goal. The Rangers get their first goal to tie the game 1-1.
20:00 The third and last period is underway!
0:00 The second period concludes. Bolts lead 1-0.
9:17 Goal! Bolts captain Steven Stamkos scores the first goal of the game to give the bolts a 1-0 lead! Assisted by Mikhail Sergachev and Ondrej Palat.
20:00 The second period begins!
0:00 The first period comes to a close as both teams fail to score the first goal of the game.
20:00 The puck is dropped and the first period is underway!
Tonight's starters for the Bolts!
Original story below:
The Tampa Bay Find A Ways are one win away from becoming the first team since the 1980s to land in three straight Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 5 was not the prettiest brand of puck you will see from the Lightning and that's OK. As these two-time champs understand, grinding your way to some grimy goals and playing relentless defense is part of the process.
On Thursday, the first goal came from Mikhail Sergachev who shipped one in through, seemingly, five bodies to beat Igor Shesterkin. Then the game-winner was a shot off Ondrej Palat's leg. Some might think that's lucky, but captain Steven Stamkos knows it's a snippet of the recipe.
"They're not fluky when you have guys driving hard to the net taking the eyes away of the goalie," he told NHL Network after the win. "It's hard work. It's not easy. It's exhausting."
After starting the series slowly, the Lightning snapped into form somewhere in the middle of Game 3 when trailing 2-0. There is something about this squad, which loves a sense of urgency.
But now they're on top and the New York Rangers are in a familiar position. In the first two playoff bouts, the Blueshirts fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes by two games only to take the series in seven. The Lightning know nothing is given in these elimination spots even though they're very successful at closing teams out.
“Just because it is an elimination game doesn’t mean we are going to knock them out," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "If we don’t bring our best, it’ll be trouble for us because I know the Rangers will bring their best.”
Palat is carving out quite a playoff career against New York. In 13 Eastern Conference Final games against the Rangers, he has 13 points with eight goals. Sometimes Palat operates in the shadows, but in this series, he has been needed to chip in a little bit more.
Another group working in the shadows is the Anthony Cirelli-Alex Killorn-Brandon Hagel line. This checking line has been a force against New York's talented stars. Mika Zibanejad has been heavily limited in 5-on-5 hockey and Cirelli gets a lot of credit for that.
"Even back when I played in the OHL, just his details and work ethic are unmatched," Nick Paul said. "He does everything right, everything hard. Leaves everything on the ice every shift. He’s stayed the same way and it’s been successful for him.”
If the Lightning want to beat New York, they really need to replicate the Game 5 model. Work hard, play a full 60 minutes, take advantage of the limited opportunities they'll be given and hopefully — some puck luck with happen along the way.
The Bolts are riding a six-game home winning streak into the contest. If they beat the Rangers in Game 6, it will be the longest playoff streak in franchise history.
"It's not time to rest on what we've done. Let's go home & let's finish the job," Stamkos said. "We know how extremely hard it is. These guys have pushed & battled all playoffs. It's going to be the toughest game yet, but our group certainly can rely on our experience."
Jon Cooper said on Friday he "anticipates" Ryan McDonagh to suit up after missing most of the 3rd period in Game 5. He also did not have an update on Brayden Point, who could play in his first postseason contest Saturday — exactly four weeks since getting hurt in Toronto.
Puck drops in Tampa at 8:00 p.m.
"We expect their best game of the playoffs, but we expect ourselves to be at that level too," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We've been successful when we’ve had the opportunity to eliminate teams & now we have the chance again going home, but we're not going to hang our hat there."