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NHL and the Stanley Cup Finals

The National Hockey League restarted and ended without making any major headline news in the sports world. The NHL’s plan to restart was strongly backed up by the fans, players and organizations. Through long conversations and weighing all options the NHL decided what the best option was for them. They decided that they would take the top 12 teams from the Eastern Conference and bubble them in Toronto, Canada; then take the top 12 teams in the Western Conference and bubble them in Edmonton, Canada. Then the final two teams remaining out play in Edmonton, where only one would hoist the Stanley Cup trophy.

The NHL had protocols in place to ensure the safety of their players, coaches and personnel were safe through the playoffs. Some of the protocols included getting tested every other day, daily symptom and temperature checks and practicing social distancing. In doing so, the NHL had no positive test.

Back to business. Each of the 24 teams left had a chance to win the Cup. 

Eastern Conference

The Tampa Bay Lightning came out of the Eastern conference. After an upset loss in the first round of the playoffs last year Tampa Bay was not going to let that happen to them again. On their way to the Stanley Cup Finals they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and Cinderella hopeful sixth seeded New York Islanders. The Lightning have had recent playoff success. Since 2010 they have been to the conference finals 5 times with 2 finals appearances.

Western Conference

The defending champions, St. Louis Blues did not make the playoffs this year, so the West was going to have a new representative. That team would be the Dallas Stars. They beat the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and top seeded Vegas Golden Knights. The Stars are a different story than their finals counterpart. Since 2010 they have only been to the playoffs 4 times, with 2 of those being second round exists. However, in a year unlike any other, they broke through this year to appear in their third Stanley Cup Finals.

Stanley Cup Finals

The stage is set. Tampa Bay vs Dallas for the Stanley Cup in Edmonton. Game 1 was handled by the Dallas Stars–winning 4-1. The Tampa Bay Lighting won games 2 and 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. In a pivotal game 4 where Tampa Bay could take a huge 3-1 series lead or Dallas could tie it up at 2 games a piece it was no surprise overtime was needed to settle the dust. Tampa Bay was down 2 goals early in the first period, but they battled back to tie it at 2 goals each. Through the next 2 periods they traded goals with the third period ending 4-4. Tampa Bay would score the game deciding goal 6 minutes into the overtime period to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Game 5 would not have as much scoring but it would need another overtime period. With Dallas needing a win to stay alive they were determined not to lose. By doing so, they would score first. The Stars fell behind by a goal in the third period. Needing a goal to stay alive they score with about 7 minutes left in the game. Overtime number 1 had no scoring; which means they needed another overtime period. In the second overtime Dallas scored the lone goal to stay alive. The series is now 3-2.

Tampa Bay needed one more win to close out the series. Game 6 was the perfect time to do so. If they were to lose game 6, they would have lost 2 games in a row and Dallas would have momentum. Tampa Bay needed to close this game out. That is exactly what they did. The Lighting scored a goal in each of the first two periods. Those two goals would be the difference. The Tampa Bay Lighting would win game 6 by a score of 2-0. The 2020 Stanley Cup champions were crowned. This championship is the franchises second; winning the Cup for the first time in 2004. 

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