Lightning top Islanders in Game 7, advance to Stanley Cup Final


The team with the most recent Stanley Cup championship will play the team with the most Stanley Cup championships.

The Tampa Bay Lighting advanced to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the New York Islanders 1-0 in Game 7 of the semifinals on Friday. The defending champion Lightning advance to take on the Montreal Canadiens, who have won an NHL-record 24 Cups.

Game 1 is set for Monday night at 8 p.m ET.

The lone goal came during the game's lone power play by the team that was a man down, as Yanni Gourde scored a shorthanded goal in the second period to give Tampa Bay the lead.

That was enough for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had 18 saves to become the first goalie with three shutouts in series-clinching games during a single postseason.

He got help from his teammates, as the Lightning kept the puck out of the zone and outshot the Islanders 31-18.

In the opening period, the Lightning controlled the puck as New York's Semyon Varlamov made 15 saves to keep the game scoreless through the first. The Lightning outshot the Islanders 15-5 in the period.

It seemed the Islanders would have a chance to generate some scoring opportunities after getting the game's first and only power play early in the second period. But after a New York turnover, a surrounded Anthony Cirelli delivered a pass to Gourde, who came straight from the bench following a line change to score a shorthanded goal from the slot, giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead 1:49 into the second.

It was the first shorthanded goal allowed by the Islanders in 75 games this season, and it couldn't have come at a more inopportune time.

The Lighting survived one final Islander attack after they pulled Varlamov with just over two minutes remaining, defeating New York in the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

The Islanders' loss means they have played their final game at Nassau Coliseum, as they move into a new $1.5 billion arena at Belmont Park next season. It was Anthony Beauvillier's Game 6 overtime goal that forced Game 7, causing Islanders fans to shower the ice with beer cans after the win.

But the Lightning entered Game 7 having not lost consecutive postseason games since the 2019 first round, going 13-0 in games following a playoff loss, including 5-0 this postseason. That trend continued on Friday, and Lightning fans responded after the game by littering the ice with giveaway noise-makers.

Tampa Bay is now four wins away from becoming the NHL's first back-to-back champion since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. They'll take on a Canadiens team that is seeking its first championship since 1993, which was the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup.

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