Chris O’Mera / Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Lightning are going back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
For the first time since 2015, one of the NHL’s dominant teams will have the opportunity to play for the championship after ending the New York Islanders. 2–1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night.
Anthony Cirelli scored the game-winning goal in overtime at 13:18 as goalscorer Andrei Vasilevsky scored 26 goals in the win.
Tampa will face the Dallas Stars inside the league’s Edmonton, Alberta bubble to the right to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The Bolts are 1–1 in the final, having defeated the Calgary Flames in 2004 before falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.
Anthony Cirelli, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 goal (game-winner), 4 SOG, 4 blocks
Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 goal, 6 SOG, 30:41 TOI
Devon Toes, D, New York Islanders: 1 goal, 4 PIM, 3 blocks
Simeon Varlamov, G, New York Islanders: 41 saves, 2 goals aloud
Sireli’s overtime winner
If an islander saw Anthony Sneaking into the Cirelli crease they were either too tired to stop him or too slow to move him.
Tampa Bay center, behind all five New York skaters, planted himself in front of Shimon Verlomov and buried a feed from Barclay Goodrow down the goal line before adjusting to the Isles goalkeeper. The result was a game-winning goal that put the Bolts away from the Stanley Cup by four wins.
Matthew Barzal was the closest player Cirelli and it seemed that there was an opportunity to lift the center stick, but there was a late response. Cirelli instead went right in front of the blue and out of reach of any defender.
That the Lightning forward was in a position to make the play impressive.
Did not exist Sirley was injured in the second period after hitting New York’s Anders Lee, with the Islanders winning over Brock Nelson on both a point blank opportunity and a power play that came in the first free moments Sireli’s goal.
Tampa wastes almost a second period
If ever there was a chance to take out the Islanders from Game 6, the second period provided it and then some.
Tampa Bay entered the second frame at their defensive peak, with substantial scoring opportunities and still vacant. It was one of the most 20 minutes of the series and somehow led to a zero edge for the team.
The Islanders put up zero shots on goal with just two shot attempts through 10 minutes of play. Overall, the Bolts were out of New York 24-6.
Nevertheless the score remained 1–1. No harm, no dishonesty, little action.
The Lightning was absolutely required for a defensive presence from both sides. Prohibiting any offensive opportunity, while the Isles again relied on netminder Simeon Varlomov, he set aside 10 shots.
Varlomov was also called to close back-to-back Lightning power plays and Devon Toes was called for a delay in the game and Cal Clutterbuck was caught tripping.
Neither example came back to hurt New York.
Bolt instead fought with apparent exhaustion in overtime and headlined an Eastern Conference at Tampa Bay.
What will happen next
The Lightning continue to face the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 1 is set for ET on Saturday, September 19 at 7:30 pm ET on NBC.