EDMONTON, Alberta — The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars, 2-0, on Monday, more than two months after they entered the N.H.L. bubble in Toronto, to leave Edmonton as the winners of the 2020 Stanley Cup finals.
Brayden Point scored on a first-period power play and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for his first shutout of the postseason as Tampa Bay won the best-of-seven series, four games to two. Blake Coleman also scored for the Lightning in the second period.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. He led all defensemen this postseason with 10 goals.
Anton Khudobin made 27 saves for the Stars, who had fallen behind three games to one and forced a sixth game with a double-overtime win in Game 5 but could not push the series to a Game 7.
Point’s tally came on the second Tampa Bay power play of the game. He streaked down the slot, then picked up his own rebound and beat Khudobin high for his playoff-leading 14th goal of the postseason. His linemate Nikita Kucherov drew the primary assist, his playoff-leading 34th point and 27th assist, fifth highest in N.H.L. history behind only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Vasilevskiy played every minute in net for the Lightning and set a postseason record for minutes played. The old record was held by the Calgary Flames’ Miikka Kiprusoff, who was on the losing side in 2004 when the Lightning won their franchise’s only previous championship.
After the Lightning captain Steven Stamkos made a brief but thrilling appearance for 2 minutes 47 seconds in Game 3 and scored a goal on his only shot, Tampa Bay Coach Jon Cooper officially ruled him out for the rest of the playoffs on Sunday. He put on his uniform to receive the Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman after the game.
Cooper made two lineup changes for Game 6 — reinserting defenseman Zach Bogosian in place of Jan Rutta for the first time since Game 1 and swapping out forward Carter Verhaeghe in favor of the rookie Alexander Volkov, who saw his first career playoff action.
Following back-to-back games in which the Lightning won in overtime on Friday and the Stars answered back in double overtime on Saturday, the intensity took a bit of a dip on Monday, as the clubs settled in for another tight-checking first period.
As was often the case in this series, special teams were the difference. The Lightning were 1 for 3 with the man advantage, while the Stars were 0 for 3. Dallas’s final power play came with 4:33 left in the third period.
The Stars were unable to generate a single shot on goal, but kept pressing after pulling Khudobin for the extra attacker. After generating just eight shots in the first two periods, Dallas outshot Tampa Bay, 14-8, in the third, but Vasilevskiy stopped them all.
As time ran out, the screams of joy echoed through Rogers Place, which was devoid of ticket-buying fans, as the Lightning players poured onto the ice to celebrate a Stanley Cup win that had been a long time coming.
Point’s first-period goal proved to be the game winner, and Coleman’s insurance tally came off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play at 7:01 of the second period. Assists on that goal went to Cedric Paquette and Pat Maroon, who stole the puck to start the play.
A new addition to the Lightning this season, Maroon came into the playoffs as the only Tampa Bay player with a Stanley Cup ring. On Monday, he lifted the trophy for the second consecutive year after winning with his hometown St. Louis Blues in 2019.
For the Lightning and many of their players, this Stanley Cup carries an air of vindication. One year ago, they finished the regular season as the N.H.L.’s top team and tied a league record with 62 wins. But their championship aspirations were quickly snuffed in a first-round sweep at the hands of the eighth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets.
This season, the Lightning came back mentally tougher, in part thanks to the addition of some other veterans who felt they had something to prove. One of them, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, scored the overtime winner in Game 4 to put the Lightning one win away from the Stanley Cup — just one year after he was bought out of the last two years of his contract with the Rangers.
In an era of parity in the N.H.L., where dynastic franchises largely belong to a bygone era, Tampa Bay has been one of the most successful teams in the league since Cooper took over behind their bench near the end of the 2012-13 season.
For five of those years, from 2013 to 2018, Cooper was assisted by Rick Bowness, the veteran defensive coach who left for Dallas at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. He was named the Stars’ interim head coach midway through this season, after Jim Montgomery was dismissed.
Cooper is currently the longest-tenured coach in the league. Under his leadership, the club has now made the playoffs in six of his seven full seasons, reaching the Eastern Conference finals twice and losing to Chicago in the 2015 Stanley Cup finals before finally finishing the job this year — a Sun Belt team realizing its championship dreams in an empty arena in Northern Alberta.