SEASON LIKE NO OTHER ENDS WITH LIGHTNING LIFTING STANLEY CUP
Nearly a full year after the opening face-off of the 2019-20 campaign and more than six months after the League hit “pause” on the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to claim their second championship.
* The clinching victory came 363 days after the puck dropped on the regular season, 201 days after the pause began and 65 days after players entered “Bubbles” in Edmonton and Toronto for a postseason unlike any other in League history.
* The Lightning opened their 27th season with a victory against the intrastate rival Panthers on Oct. 3, 2019, and concluded it by hoisting the Cup to avenge one of the most monumental upsets in League history. After matching the single-season NHL record for wins in 2018-19, the Lightning were swept by the Blue Jackets in the First Round.
* Tampa Bay became the third team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after being swept in a best-of-seven series during the opening round of the previous postseason, joining the 1967 Maple Leafs and 1961 Black Hawks.
* The Lightning are the first franchise to join the League in the 1990s or later and win the Stanley Cup multiple times, though the trophy presentation looked quite different this time around. Former captain Dave Andreychuk accepted the team’s first Cup on June 7, 2004 after Game 7 against the Calgary Flames in front of a crowd of 22,717 at St. Pete Times Forum, while current captain Steven Stamkos accepted the trophy alongside the entire team at center ice at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
HEDMAN AWARDED CONN SMYTHE TROPHY
After recording the third-highest goal total by a defenseman in a single postseason, Victor Hedman (10-12—22 in 25 GP) won the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to “the most valuable player to his team in the playoffs.” The winner was selected in a vote by a panel of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
* Hedman followed Hockey Hall of Fame members Paul Coffey (12 in 1985 w/ EDM; 18 GP) and Brian Leetch (11 in 1994 w/ NYR; 23 GP) as the third defenseman in NHL history to score at least 10 goals in a playoff year.
* Hedman capped his postseason performance with an assist on the Stanley Cup-clinching goal, finishing with 22 points to set a franchise record for most in a postseason by a defenseman. The only blueliner with more points this postseason was Final opponent Miro Heiskanen (6-20—26 in 27 GP).
* Hedman (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) became the third Swedish-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, following Nicklas Lidstrom (Vasteras, Sweden; 2002) and Henrik Zetterberg (Njurunda, Sweden; 2008) who did so with the Red Wings in 2002 and 2008, respectively. The only other players born outside North America to claim the honor are Evgeni Malkin (Magnitogorsk, Russia; 2009 w/ PIT) and Alex Ovechkin (Moscow, Russia; 2018 w/ WSH).
* Hedman became the 10th different defensemen to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, joining a list that includes eight members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
VASILEVSKIY SAVES PERFECT PERFORMANCE FOR PLAYOFF FINALE
Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded his first shutout of the 2020 postseason in the Cup-clinching game to win his first Stanley Cup, finishing with an 18-7 record in 25 appearances (1.90 GAA, .927 SV%) – including a perfect 7-0 mark following a loss. His 18 wins were the most ever in one playoff year by a goaltender, as he earned victories in two of the team’s three round-robin contests before the First Round.
* Vasilevskiy made 22 saves in Game 6 to become the second goaltender in NHL history to record his first shutout in a playoff year during the Stanley Cup-clinching game. Tom Barrasso is the only other to do so, with the Penguins in 1991 – also against the Stars/North Stars franchise.
* Vasilevskiy joined Nikolai Khabibulin as the second goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first seven games following a loss in a single playoff year. Khabibulin went 7-0 after loses in leading the Lightning to their first Cup in 2004.
* Vasilevskiy (1,708:12) set an NHL record for minutes played by a goaltender in a postseason, tending the Lightning net for all but 13:02 of their postseason (when he was off for an extra attacker). He is the 10th different goaltender in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) – and first since 2013 – to be the only netminder during the playoffs for a Stanley Cup champion.
* Vasilevskiy (Tyumen, Russia) became the fourth goaltender born outside North America to earn a Stanley Cup-clinching win in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44). He is the second from Russia to do so, following Khabibulin (Sverdlovsk, Russia) who backstopped the Lightning to their first title in 2004. The others in that time frame: Dominik Hasek (Pardubice, Czech Republic) with the Red Wings in 2002 and Antti Niemi (Vantaa, Finland) with the Blackhawks in 2010.
* Aside from Vasilevskiy and Khabibulin, only one other Russian goaltender in NHL history has his name on the Stanley Cup: Ilya Bryzgalov went 3-1 in four appearances with Anaheim during 2007 postseason but did not earn their Cup-clinching win over Ottawa.
RECORDS FALL AS KUCHEROV, POINT, HEDMAN FILL VOID ON OFFENSE
With captain Steven Stamkos missing all but one game in the 2020 postseason – after ranking second on the team in goals (29) and points (66) during the regular-season (57 GP) – the Lightning were offensively led on their championship run by three other franchise cornerstones: Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman.
* The trio teamed up for the Cup-clinching goal in Game 6, the last of their collective 31 goals, 58 assists and 89 points in the 2020 postseason (25 GP).
* Kucherov led all players in assists (27) and points (34) in the 2020 postseason (25 GP), setting franchise records in both categories. He joined Wayne Gretzky (3x) and Mario Lemieux as the only players to record at least 27 assists in a postseason, and equaled the second-highest point total by any player in the last 26 years.
* Kucherov (Maykop, Russia) became the fourth different Russian player to lead the NHL in postseason scoring during the League’s modern era (since 1943-44), joining Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov (Chelyabinsk, Russia) in 2018, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (Magnitogorsk, Russia) in 2009 and 2017, and Detroit’s Sergei Fedorov (Pskov, Russia) in 1995.
* Point led the NHL with 14 goals, setting a franchise record for most goals in a single postseason with his Cup-clinching tally in Game 6. Point scored 13 of his 14 goals from the First Round onward, including a goal in four of six games in the Final. In the First Round against the Blue Jackets, Point ended Game 1 with his second goal of the contest at 10:27 of the fifth overtime, and later eliminated the Blue Jackets – who swept Tampa Bay in 2019 – by becoming the first player in eight years to score multiple overtime goals in the same series.
* Hedman, whose 2020 postseason accolades are detailed in the Conn Smythe Trophy section above, set franchise records for goals (10), points (22), plus-minus (+13), even-strength goals (7), game-winning goals (3) and shots (82) by a defenseman in a single playoff year.
* Point (5-3—8) and Kucherov (1-7—8), who each had three straight multi-point games in the Final, became the first set of teammates since 1994 to each record a point streak of five or more games in the Stanley Cup Final. Mark Messier (6 GP) and Alex Kovalev (5 GP) combined for the feat with the Rangers that year.
* Point led all players with five goals in the Final, tied for the most by any player in the last 30 years. Kucherov led all players with seven assists in the Final, tied for the most by any player since 2011 (Kuznetsov: 7 in 2018). They became the first set of Cup-winning teammates to each record eight or more points in the Final since 1991, when Mario Lemieux, Larry Murphy and Joe Mullen did so against the North Stars.
STAMKOS RAISES CUP, LEAVES MARK IN LIMITED TIME
Though he logged only 2:47 of ice time in the 2020 postseason, Steven Stamkos made the most of it by scoring Tampa Bay’s second goal in an eventual 5-2 victory in Game 3 of the Final. The Lightning captain since 2014-15 was on the ice to accept the Stanley Cup surrounded by his teammates at the conclusion of Game 6.
* Although rare, there have been three instances in the last 50 years of the captain of a Cup-winning team not dressing for the championship-clinching game. In 1989, Jim Peplinski and Tim Hunter were co-captains of the Flames with Lanny McDonald. While McDonald played in the final game, Peplinski and Hunter did not. The three accepted the trophy together.
* Yvan Cournoyer was captain of the Canadiens in 1977 and 1979 but did not play in either of their Stanley Cup-clinching games in those seasons. In 1979, Serge Savard was wearing the captain’s “C” in his place and accepted the trophy while Cournoyer was on the ice for the presentation. Cournoyer missed the 1977 playoffs following back surgery, but was again on the ice for the Cup presentation.
All but one player on the Lightning roster won the Stanley Cup for the first time, marking the third straight year that the NHL’s champion was comprised of one or fewer former Cup winners – the first such run in League history. Tampa Bay is the ninth team in the League’s expansion era (since 1967-68) to win the Cup with one or fewer past champions.
* Forward Pat Maroon, who won the Stanley Cup with St. Louis in 2019, became the third player in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) and eighth in League history to win a championship in consecutive seasons with a different team.
LIGHTNING WORKED OVERTIME EN ROUTE TO CUP
After becoming the first team in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup Final via the three series-clinching wins in overtime, the Lightning added two more overtime contests to its tally against the Stars. Tampa Bay finished the postseason with a 7-2 record in overtime games, playing a League-record 221:14 overtime minutes in the 2020 postseason – equivalent to nearly four extra regulation games.
* Tampa Bay collected 216:14 of its 221:14 overtime minutes from the First Round onward, beginning with a victory in the fourth-longest NHL game ever played (150:27). Brayden Point scored the decisive goal in that contest and later eliminated Columbus with an overtime goal to become the first player in eight years to score multiple overtime goals in a series. Point was one of five players to score in an overtime period for the Lightning in 2020.
* Andrei Vasilevskiy posted a shutout sequence of 171:59 in overtime from the opener of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers through Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. It was the longest such run in League history by a goaltender in a single playoff year, ahead of Jean-Sebastien Giguere (168:27 in 2003 w/ ANA) and Patrick Roy (131:53 in 1996 w/ COL).
* The Lightning also had a team shutout sequence of 171:59 in overtime, the longest such run in NHL history by a team in a single playoff year ahead of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (168:27 in 2003) and Chicago Blackhawks (151:23 in 2015).
* Tampa Bay owns the best overtime winning percentage in Stanley Cup Playoffs history (.688).
STANLEY CUP FINAL NOTES
The 130th postseason game in 2020 brought to an end a Stanley Cup Playoffs unlike any other in League history. After each of the 24 resuming teams played one exhibition game from July 28-30, the first-ever Stanley Cup Qualifiers followed with 44 total games in the round-robin (12 GP) and qualifying round (32 GP) from Aug. 1-9 to determine the 16-team bracket for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (86 GP).
* The Stanley Cup Final required at least six games for the 17th time in the last 21 series. There has not been a single sweep in the Final during that span nor has there been consecutive years without at least a six-game series.
* The Stanley Cup was won via a shutout for the 23rd time in NHL history and fourth time since the Lightning last won the Cup in 2004 (also 2017 PIT, 2015 CHI and 2011 BOS).
* The 2020 Stanley Cup Final marked the first time that the Cup was won at a neutral site since 1927 when the NHL took sole control over trophy. The only instances before that came in 1920, 1923 and 1924.
* The Lightning became the first team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup without playing a playoff game in its home city. Prior to Tampa Bay, the closest a champion had come to that feat is the original Ottawa Senators in 1921 and 1923 (1 GP in Ottawa).
* This marked the fifth time a team has won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton (also the Oilers in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988).
* The Stanley Cup now has been awarded in five different months: March (6x; first in 1918 and last in 1929), April (40x; first in 1920 and last in 1964), May (27x; first in 1965 and last in 1991), June (27x; first in 1992 and last in 2019) and for the first time, September.