A pair of teams who normally play in the same division will have the unique opportunity to compete against each other for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The last time we did this, we said there were still four different potential Stanley Cup Final match-ups, all being very real possibilities. Both Stanley Cup semi-final series were tied 2-2, after all.
Well, now we have our answer. The defending champs are heading back to the dance to defend their title. Their opponent will try to complete a Stanley Cup run that would challenge the 2011-12 LA Kings for the most stunning championship we’ve ever seen.
Before the puck drops in Tampa for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, let’s get you caught up with how things wrapped up in the semi-finals.
Tampa Bay Lightning VS New York Islanders
For the second straight year, the New York Islanders were denied a trip to the Stanley Cup Final by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning made a statement in Game 5, handing the Islanders their most lopsided playoff defeat in franchise history with an 8-0 slaughter.
By the time the Bolts jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 6, they’d scored 12 unanswered goals in the series.
Yes, Point scored one of them, extending his streak to nine games.
That gave the Islanders a chance to avenge last year’s loss to the Lightning and bring the Stanley Cup Final to Nassau Coliseum one last time, but New York just couldn’t get anything going in Game 7. They were outshot 31-18, and a shorthanded goal by Yanni Gourde early in the second period was all Tampa Bay would need as Vasilevskiy recorded what had to be one of the easier shutouts of his career in a 1-0 win.
Point’s goal streak was snapped, but we doubt he cares too much. The Bolts are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final, where they will look to join the Pittsburgh Penguins (2015-16/2016-17) as the only teams to win back-to-back Cups in the salary cap era. (Not that Tampa Bay has much regard for the cap, of course.)