The Tampa Bay Lightning's Road to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final
Here are the key games and moments, from training camp through the Eastern Conference Finals, that gave the Lightning their first shot at the Stanley Cup since they won it in 2004. BY MICHAEL BLINN
June 03, 2015
1 of 12Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
After a disappointing sweep by Montreal in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, coach Jon Cooper's Lightning looked forward to a full, healthy season from sniper Steven Stamkos, improved play by re-signed goalie Ben Bishop, contributions from key free agents Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle, and continued progress by Calder Trophy finalists Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat who teamed with Nikita Kucherov to form the dangerous Triplets Line.
2 of 12Scott Audette/Getty Images
October 13, 2014
The Lightning made a pretty big revenge statement three games into the season by ringing up seven goals against the Canadiens. The win was even more impressive when viewed in the context of Carey Price's MVP-caliber season for Montreal. The Vezina candidate was chased after allowing four goals in two periods, including three by Steven Stamkos.
3 of 12Andy Devlin/Getty Images
October 20, 2014
After a 3-2 loss to the woeful Oilers, the Lightning held a 3-2-1 record that left them behind Montreal, Ottawa and Detroit in the Atlantic Division standings. But it was the lowest Tampa Bay would go in the division at any point during the season.
4 of 12Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images
November 9, 2014
A 4-3 shootout win over Detroit gave the Lightning win their sixth straight win, their longest such streak of the season. In a 13-day span, Tampa Bay notched victories over Arizona, Philadelphia, Washington, Calgary, Columbus and Detroit again before finally falling to Chicago in a shootout.
5 of 12Scott Audette/Getty Images
November 26, 2014
Martin St. Louis plays in Tampa Bay for the first time as a New York Ranger. During his 13-year run with the Bolts, he was a fan favorite who notched 365 goals and 953 points, with five All-Star Game nods, three Lady Byng and two Art Ross plus Hart and Pearson trophies in 2003-04. The player he was traded for, Ryan Callahan, spoils St. Louis’s evening by leading the Bolts to a 4-3 win with two goals and an assist.
6 of 12Scott Iskowitz/NHLI via Getty Images
February 11, 2015
At 36-16-6, the Lightning sit atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with 74 points, though it is the last day they'll occupy that spot alone. They spend the remainder of the season either tied with or attempting to catch up to the Canadiens.
7 of 12Francois Lecasse/NHLI via Getty Images
March 30, 2015
The Lightning’s 5-3 win over Montreal gives them a sweep of the season series. The victory is their 47th of the season, marking a franchise record and clinching a playoff spot. The Bolts will record four more wins in their final eight games of the season to finish with 50 wins (32 at home) and 108 points, all single-season club records, but they are unable to catch the Habs for first place in the Atlantic.
8 of 12Graig Abel/Getty Images
March 31, 2015
Ryan Callahan scores the lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, his first-period tally the team's 247th of the season, which breaks their franchise record set in 2005-06. The NHL's best offense will finish the season with a league-high 259 goals, averaging 3.16 per game.
9 of 12Eliot J. Schecter/NHLI via Getty Images
April 4, 2015
Ben Bishop stops all 34 shots he faces against the Panthers for his career-high 38th win, breaking the team mark he set the previous season. He later adds wins in the final two games of the season to push his record-setting total to 40.
10 of 12Gregory Shamus/Getty images
April 23, 2015
Down 2-0 in Game 4 of their surprisingly challenging first round series against Detroit, the Lightning rally in the third period by scoring twice in 77 seconds to send the game to overtime. In the extra frame, Tyler Johnson adds to his budding 2015 playoff legend by scoring his second goal of the game, tying the series at two games apiece. In the next round against Montreal, Johnson will beat the Habs with a memorable buzzer beater in Game 3.
11 of 12Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
May 3, 2015
Held to just three assists through the first eight games of the postseason, Steven Stamkos breaks through against Carey Price and the Canadiens in Game 2 of the Eastern semifinals. He adds two helpers in the 6-2 win and goes on to post six goals and 11 points in the Lightning's next 11 games.
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May 29, 2015
After failing to close out the Rangers and their feared goalie Henrik Lundqvist at home in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Bolts get over a huge emotional hump by shutting out the Blueshirts 2-0 in Game 7 in New York. With a pair of third-period goals by Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay advances to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in franchise history and the first since winning the Cup in 2004. They also become the first expansion club to beat three Original Six en route to the final round.
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