Tampa Bay proved that Lightning can strike twice, but how about a third time?
The Lightning have lifted the Stanley Cup in the last two seasons. They won the 2020 Cup Final in six games over the Dallas Stars and repeated as champions by beating the Montreal Canadiens in a gentleman's sweep last year.
As the first three rounds of the 2022 playoffs have shown, the Lightning are intent on lifting the Stanley Cup once again. The team outlasted the Toronto Maple Leafs in a seven-game, first-round series, demolished the Florida Panthers in four games during the second round and overcame a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.
Next up for Tampa Bay is a Stanley Cup Final date with the Colorado Avalanche, who have lost just two games so far on their current playoff run.
Along with etching their names into the Cup again, the Lightning have a chance to etch themselves into the NHL history books even more. Only five teams have ever won three straight championships, and no team has pulled the feat off in nearly 40 years.
Here’s a look at the teams the Lightning can join by three-peating:
Toronto Maple Leafs: 1947-49
The Maple Leafs kicked off the league’s first ever three-peat by beating the rival Canadiens in the 1947 Cup Final. Montreal grabbed quick control of the series, shutting out Toronto with a 6-0 shellacking. The Leafs bounced back with three straight wins and closed out the Habs in six games.
Toronto squared off against the Detroit Red Wings in the next two Cup Finals and didn’t lose a single game in either series. The Maple Leafs outscored the Red Wings 30-12 across eight games as they earned two sweeps and two more championships.
Montreal Canadiens: 1956-60
The Canadiens made five straight Cup Finals from 1951 to 1955 but came away with just one championship. They more than made up for it over the next five seasons, though, by building the longest title streak in NHL history.
The Habs started their run of five straight Stanley Cups by beating the Red Wings in 1956. Montreal then won its next two titles over the Boston Bruins and two more against the Maple Leafs. Across all five series, they never played a Game 7 and only had to play one Game 6.
Toronto Maple Leafs: 1962-64
After the Chicago Black Hawks won the 1961 Cup, another Canadian dynasty came from Toronto.
The Maple Leafs pulled off the franchise’s second three-peat from 1962 to 1964. They won the 1962 Cup over the defending champion Black Hawks before facing the Red Wings in 1963 and 1964. Toronto took care of business with a five-game series victory over Detroit in 1963, but the 1964 Cup Final came down to a Game 7. Johnny Bower stopped all 33 shots he faced as the Maple Leafs won 4-0 to secure their third consecutive championship.
Montreal Canadiens: 1976-79
Sixteen years after completing their five-peat, the Canadians began another historic championship streak.
The Habs lost just three Cup Final games while winning four straight titles from 1976 to 1979. The first came in a sweep over the Philadelphia Flyers. The next two came against the Bruins with a sweep in 1977 and a six-game series victory in 1978. The fourth title came against the Rangers in a five-game series.
New York Islanders: 1980-83
Right when the Canadiens’ four-year reign ended, the New York Islanders started one of their own.
The first championship in that run came over the Flyers in 1980. New York defended the title with a 4-1 series win over the Minnesota North Stars in 1981 and became the first U.S. NHL team to three-peat by sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in the 1982 Cup Final. Al Arbour’s squad took things one step further in 1983, earning a fourth straight championship with a sweep over the Oilers.