TAMPA, Fla. (WTXL) — Four wins away: After 56 regular-season games in a shortened season, six games against the Florida Panthers in round 1, five games against the Carolina Hurricanes in round 2 and seven games with the New York Islanders in round 3, it all comes down to this.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are just four wins away from repeating as Stanley Cup Champions, a feat that has only been accomplished once since the turn of the century (Pittsburgh Penguins 2015-16, 2016-17).
The only thing standing in the way of a repeat is the Montreal Canadiens, who have the incredibly tough task of taking four out of seven from the defending champs.
It's the first time since 1993 Montreal has been in the Final. These two teams last met up in the postseason in the 2014-15 season when Tampa Bay won in six games in the second round.
To get to this point this year, the Canadiens went through seven games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in round 1 before sweeping the Winnipeg Jets in round 2 and defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in six for round 3.
With the shortened season and limited travel, these teams didn't play each other all year. In fact, they haven't seen each other since March of 2020 when the Bolts beat the Habs 4-0 shortly before COVID-19 threw a wrench into the season.
The official watch party for Game 1 is sold out as fans in the Tampa Bay area are buzzing about the prospect of going back to back.
This matchup will feature two of the top goaltenders in the league going at it in Andrei Vasilevskiy and Carey Price. This postseason they have the second and third-best goals-against average, at 1.99 and 2.02 respectively.
Another interesting storyline to watch is the power play. We all know the Bolts are lethal with a man advantage, but the Habs have killed off 30 straight penalties, so something will have to give one way or another.
We could be in for a low-scoring series, as the Canadiens have held their opponents to two or fewer goals in eight of their last nine contests. Meanwhile the Lightning have recorded two shutouts in their last three games.
You can see the full series schedule HERE.
The puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final from AMALIE Arena at 8 p.m. Monday.