As the Tampa Bay Lightning go for a Stanley Cup three-peat, the Washington Capitals remain the last team to defeat the Bolts in the Eastern Conference Final.
Back in 2018, Washington went up 2-0 in the series with back-to-back wins in Tampa. Then, when the Capitals returned home, the Lightning evened the series before taking a 3-2 lead back to D.C. following a Game 5 victory.
But, after that, Washington took back control.
With their backs against the wall, the Capitals dominated, solving Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Bolts. T.J. Oshie struck twice and Devante Smith-Pelly scored en route to a 3-0 win at Capital One Arena to force Game 7. There, two goals from Andre Burakovsky and tallies from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom helped Washington eliminate Tampa with a stellar 4-0 win. The team allowed no goals through the last two games.
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The win marked the Capitals’ second Eastern Conference title and SCF appearance. Washington would move on to take on the Vegas Golden Knights and take the series in five games for the Capitals’ first-ever Stanley Cup.
Since then, Tampa has gone undefeated in the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the New York Islanders in 2020 (4-2) and 2021 (4-3). On Saturday, the Bolts defeated the New York Rangers, 2-1, to win the series in six.
As for Washington, following their Cup run in 2018, they have suffered four consecutive first-round exits.
After suffering that ECF loss and then a first-round sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019, the Lightning haven’t lost a playoff series. Tampa is in for a challenge again against the high-flying Colorado Avalanche. Burakovsky is the first member of the Capitals Cup-winning roster to return to the Final and look to help eliminate the Bolts for the second straight series against them.
Not only is this Tampa’s third straight Stanley Cup Final appearance, but this is the fourth consecutive year that Patrick Maroon will lace ’em up in the SCF. Meanwhile, this is Corey Perry’s third Stanley Cup Final in three years with three different teams. Before joining the Lightning, Perry appeared in the Final for the Dallas Stars in 2020 and the Montreal Canadiens in 2021.