The Lightning are in the Stanley Cup Finals!
The Lightning officially exorcised last year’s playoff demons as they beat the New York Islanders 2-1 in overtime to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Anthony Cirelli scored his third goal of the playoffs at 13:18 of overtime, and that gave the Lightning the win as they win the series beating the Islanders four games to two.
The Lightning dominated play the first two periods, while the Islanders controlled the play in the third period.
The Lightning put pressure on the Islanders from the outset as they outshot the islanders 17-6 in the first period on their way to a total of 47 for the game.
This was a series that I’m not sure the Lightning could have won last season. The defensive effort was outstanding in this series and has been throughout the playoffs.
Julien Brisebois was in the running for GM of the year. BriseBois and his under the radar moves at the trade deadline, set this team up for success to make this playoff run.
The Lightning acquired Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow at the deadline. Those guys have made huge impacts on the mindset and defensive mentality this team has displayed.
The signings of Pat Maroon and Zach Bogosian were small at the time, but those guys have been big contributors during this playoff run.
Remember, not all contributions come on the stat sheet in the form of goals and assists.
The Lightning has had contributions from all four lines at times throughout the playoffs but three players have stood out.
Victor Hedman has been the leader that this team has needed with his on-ice play and leadership in the locker room.
Hedman has scored some clutch goals, and been the leader that this team has needed. Hedman has been the best defender on the ice, and most nights the best player on the ice.
Braydon Point has elevated his game and should be in the discussion was one of the best players in the NHL. Point is tied for the team lead in scoring with Nikita Kucherov with 25 points.
The Lightning would not have won a couple of games this series if not for the play of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Vasilevskiy has made big save after big save to keep the Lightning in games and to preserve leads.
Vasilevskiy has played every minute of every playoff game this year going 13-5 with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
The Lightning will have another tough challenge ahead in the Dallas Stars. The Stars coached by former Lightning assistant coach Rick Bowness are big and fast and have a very good goalie in Anton Khudobin.
Former Lightning fan favorite Ben Bishop is now the backup goalie to Khudobin and will see very limited minutes in the finals barring an injury.
The Lightning will have less than 48 hours to celebrate this win before the puck drops on game one of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night.