The Tampa Bay Lightning are returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive season. The defending champions will take on the Montreal Canadiens after defeating the New York Islanders in a cagey Game 7, 1-0. This will be the fourth time the Lightning have reached the Final, and they'll be searching for their third title in franchise history.
The difference-maker happened in the second period while the Islanders were on a power play. Tampa Bay's Anthony Cirelli was able to take the puck into a corner and grab the attention of all the active Islanders on the ice while New York was attempting a shift change. The change in personnel cost the Isles, as it meant no one was around to man-up against Yanni Gourde, who collected the pass from Cirelli and scored the only goal of the game.
That goal ended up also turning this game into a historic one, as this game was the first Game 7 in NHL history to end in a 1-0 final, with the one score coming from a short-handed goal.
New York will certainly look at this game as one where it put itself in a rather disadvantageous situation. With just a one goal deficit, all the Isles had to do was get past their opponent once to make things interesting. While that's a tall task in it of itself, the team made it more difficult by not really ramping up the offense until the third period, when the shots on goal began to fly in a lot more frequently than they did the first and second periods.
On top of timing being a concern, the Islanders also had to deal with Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had two series-clinching shutouts under his belt this postseason heading into Game 7. He etched his name in the record books on Friday with the 1-0 win, giving him three for these playoffs, another first in NHL history.
The Lightning will now face off against the Canadiens in Tampa Bay for the honor of lifting Lord Stanley's Cup. Game 1 is on June 28 at Tampa Bay.