For the first time since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in both the 2016 and 2017 playoffs, the NHL had the Stanley Cup successfully defended. The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second straight Cup by defeating the Montreal Canadiens in five games.
It was another memorable run for the franchise who now has their third championship since 2004. While all goals scored throughout this postseason were crucial in the repeat, five stood out among the rest for various reasons. This list is based on a few factors such as importance to a specific game, a big moment for a player, or whether it was a solid highlight-reel play.
Point’s Ninth Straight
There were a few who stood out the most during Tampa’s Cup defense. The best in the goal department for them was Brayden Point, who tied his postseason career-high from the year prior with 14. One of his best hockey stretches on this run took place from Game 3 of the Carolina Hurricanes series to Game 6 against the New York Islanders, a total of nine straight games. He tallied one goal in each of those while also accruing four assists in that span of games as well.
Point’s ninth goal in a row came at Nassau Coliseum when teammate Anthony Cirelli tried to get the puck to the net with a turnaround shot. The puck found its way to Point, who eventually threw it on his backhand by Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov to open the scoring of Game 6. It was a close matchup that ended in regulation tied 2-2. New York ended up winning in overtime thanks to Anthony Beauvillier before the Lightning punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final in Game 7.
Speed on Point
Point thoroughly dominated the entire postseason this year for the Lightning, and it started right away in the first round against the Florida Panthers. Both of these teams were able to take their state rivalry to new heights, but it was Point who was one of the major factors in Tampa skating away victorious. He posted four goals and two assists for six points in the six-game series. He is so hard to stop based on his skill set, and he leaves opposing players to fend the best they can unsuccessfully.
One of Point’s biggest contributions is his speed. When the jets are turned on, he cannot be caught, and Game 1 against Florida proved that so. Unfortunately for Panthers fans, this tally was also the game-winning goal. The play started with a great pass by Bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh to the 25-year-old, who went in on a breakaway and could not be caught by Panthers blueliner MacKenzie Weegar. He slipped the puck on his backhand through the five-hole of Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to give Tampa a 5-4 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game. That would be the final score.
Point is no doubt one of the most clutch talents on the Lightning. He was consistently making an impact whenever he was on the ice, even if no scoring was done. Tampa certainly has a lot of star power with other players in Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov, but Point brings his own talent as well. He does not need other players to make him look good; he can dominate play on his own. He continued to be a dangerous threat every time he was out on attack.
Blake Coleman Beats the Buzzer
He has found a way to score a couple of diving goals in his career, but this time could not have been any better for Blake Coleman. In Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, the score was 1-1, with less than a minute remaining in the second period. In the dying seconds, Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow got to the puck, went into the Montreal zone and delivered a nice setup pass to Coleman, who dove and smacked the puck one-handed in past Price. There were 0.3 seconds left on the clock, as there was legitimately no room for any hesitation or error. It was a significant blow right before heading to the final stretch of that contest for Montreal. The Lightning won the game 3-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Coleman, since arriving in Tampa in the middle of the 2019-20 season, has been a solid complementary player to the offense. He provided much-needed depth for the forward core. He posted the following numbers in both Cup runs for the Lightning:
- 2020 playoffs: 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in 25 games
- 2021 playoffs: 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points in 23 games
Currently, Coleman is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer. Based on the current salary cap space the Lightning have, it looks like he will be playing for another team. He was a stellar asset during his time in the Bay Area, and his goal in Game 2 took the wind out of the sails for Montreal right as the second period came to a close. He did his part well in supporting the Lightning offense to back-to-back championships.
Goodrow Breaks the Tie
Along with Coleman last season, Goodrow was another talent the Lightning brought in to gear up for their 2020 Cup run. While he does not dazzle on the scoresheet, Goodrow’s style of play earns a lot of respect and appreciation from many. Looking at his stats in Tampa’s first Cup of the back-to-back, he posted one goal and five assists for six points in 25 contests.
In Game 1 of the second round against the Hurricanes this postseason, the third period saw the matchup tied up at one apiece. It was a goaltending duel between Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa and Alex Nedeljkovic for Carolina. Point had the lone goal for the Lightning, while the Hurricanes had their goal contribution courtesy of defenseman Jake Bean.
It was discussed at the time how much of a goaltending battle this matchup would be and how the tiniest play would potentially be monumental given the level both netminders could play. Neither of them were really making any mistakes. The difference came when Goodrow, with a little over seven minutes left in the third period, shot the puck from a tough angle, but it found its way by Nedeljkovic. Hurricanes defender Brady Skjei put Goodrow at the tough angle, but the puck was able to sneak by short-side. It was a tough one to give up for Nedeljkovic, but that 2-1 score was the final. The Lightning won that series in five games.
Colton From Savard
Last, and certainly one of the most important goals scored by the Lightning during this entire postseason, was by forward Ross Colton. The first-season Bolt finished the playoffs with four goals and two assists for six points in 23 contests. One of those tallies was in Game 5 of the Cup Final versus the Canadiens. Defenseman David Savard, who was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets around the trade deadline, received the puck and shot it to the front of the Montreal net where Colton was. He tapped the shot past Price to make the game 1-0 with a little over six and a half minutes left in the second period.
It was a significant goal because both Colton and Savard were two talents who were not on that 2020 Cup team. Both came together to combine in what was the Cup-clinching tally this postseason. Vasilevskiy was perfect the entire game in the net, and Tampa successfully won their second straight Cup by a 1-0 score.
There are many big goals and moments in general that make up a championship run. Players make names for themselves and become heroes for their teams and cities based on what happens in each playoff game. Those moments are never forgotten by anyone on the team or the fanbase. The Lightning had quite a few moments to take away from their Cup repeat. Star talents continued to build on their legacies, while others, like in the case of Colton and Savard, were able to fulfill one of their dreams for the first time. Like the 2020 championship, this one as well will never be forgotten, and the hard work starts again to try and win a third straight championship come 2021-22.
I have been a hockey fan for most of my life, and have played the game myself for more than six years. I graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego in 2018, with a bachelor’s in Broadcasting & Mass Communication. Previous positions held include being a Sports Analyst for Oswego’s student-run TV station, WTOP-10; News/Sports Intern for WIVB-TV Channel 4; and Sports Beat Writer Intern for Pro Player Insiders.