MIAMI (AFP) - The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second straight Stanley Cup Wednesday, edging the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 to win the NHL championship series four games to one.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy bounced back from a game-four defeat in Montreal with a 22-save shutout.
With his fifth clean sheet of the post-season Vasilevskiy scooped the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs Most Valuable Player.
Rookie Ross Colton scored the lone goal as the Lightning became the first repeat champions since the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s unbelievable,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. “I mean, so cliche to say, but there’s no words. This group to go back-to-back after everything we went through last year in the bubble, to go through this year, ups and downs. I mean, it’s amazing.”
Colton slotted a pass from defenseman David Savard past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 13:27 of the second period.
Tampa Bay had won the puck against the near boards, Colton making his way towards the net where he jostled for position with Montreal defenseman Joel Edmundson and was able to redirect Savard’s pass through traffic into the net.
Colton and Savard were the only two players in the Lightning lineup who didn’t feature in last season’s championship team.
The Lightning’s title comes just nine months after they beat the Dallas Stars in six games in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton.
This time, they were able to celebrate in front of 18,110 fans at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
“It doesn’t take anything away from last year, but to do it again is just validation into history,” Stamkos said. “And this group accomplished something that not many people thought could happen, and like I said, to do it in front of our family, our friends and our fans was just amazing.”
The Lightning are the first NHL team to clinch a Stanley Cup title at home since the Chicago Blackhawks did it in 2015 -- against Tampa Bay.
Vasilevskiy, who ended each series of these playoffs with a shut-out, including 1-0 against the New York Islanders in game seven of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, became the first goalie to win the Conn Smythe since Jonathan Quick won it with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012.
“I think we might be taking for granted how good he really is, and he’s been proving it here now for a number of years,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, “and I think he’s just getting started.”
The Canadiens had fended off elimination with a game-four victory in Montreal on Monday.
But they couldn’t build on that win, and it has been 28 years since Montreal lifted the Stanley Cup in 1993, and no Canadian club has won the title since.
The Canadiens had been the first team from north of the border in a decade to reach the final.