The Tampa Bay Lightning are officially one round away from their third straight Stanley Cup Final. With a 2-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers on Monday, the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions completed a 4-0 series sweep to reach the Eastern Conference final.
This is Tampa Bay's 10th straight playoff series win, and it's the first time a defending champion has swept a Presidents' Trophy winner since 1988.
It was the Andrei Vasilevskiy show on Monday, as the 27-year-old goalie made a whopping 49 saves. The two-time NHL All-Star has allowed just three goals in the series against Florida and stopped the last 88 shots he faced.
Florida held a commanding lead in shots all night, but Lightning left wing Pat Maroon scored the game's first goal via tip-in at 6:16 of the third period. Ondrej Palat added an empty-netter to ice the game with less than 30 seconds to go.
Tampa Bay's lead could've been much larger. Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov each had goals disallowed via review in the second period. The puck was deemed to have bounced off the netting above the crowd before Killorn's goal, and Anthony Cirelli made a hand pass to win a face-off before Kucherov's.
It was a painful loss and series for Florida, which won the Presidents' Trophy and led the NHL in goals this season. The Panthers outshot the Lightning 49-25 on Monday but failed to score a single goal. Florida scored three goals in the entire series, tied for the fifth-fewest in a four-game sweep in Stanley Cup playoffs history. The last team to manage just three goals in a sweep was the Los Angeles Kings against the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018.
Tampa Bay, after some much-deserved rest, will next play the winner of the series between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina currently leads the series 2-1, and the teams are slated to meet again at 7 p.m. ET in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.