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National Hockey League
Tampa Bay 1, NY Islanders 0
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, June 25, 2021
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Referees: Francis Charron, Gord Dwyer
Linesmen: Scott Cherrey, Michel Cormier
Attendance: 14805

The defending Stanley Cup champions will face the most storied franchise in hockey history. A weird season amid the COVID-19 pandemic has a unique championship round on the plate.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will face off with the Montreal Canadiens, with Game 1 set for Monday in Tampa.

The Lightning, after a 1-0 win over the visiting New York Islanders on Friday in Game 7 of their semifinal series, will be looking to win consecutive titles and a third Stanley Cup in their franchise's existence.

The Canadiens -- whose 24 titles are more than any other team's tally -- are back in the final for the first time since they last won the crown in 1993, which happens to be the last time a Canadian-based team won the Cup.

"They're going to get the best team that they've played against so far, and we're going to get the best team that we've played against so far," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said after the Friday victory.

Although they didn't play each other this season, the Lightning and Canadiens are hardly strangers. They are both in the Atlantic Division during a normal campaign.

"It's going to be a tough series," Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov added. "They're a hell of a team. They made it to the Final for a reason."

So did the Lightning, who knocked off the Islanders with a "textbook Game 7" according to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 18 saves en route to becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to collect three series-clinching shutouts in a single playoff year.

Yanni Gourde scored a short-handed goal 1:49 into the second period, and Vasilevskiy -- aided by teammates who were perfect defensively and blocked 21 Islanders shot attempts -- earned his fourth shutout of this year's playoffs and the fifth of his career in the postseason.

Vasilevskiy has posted a shutout in each of Tampa Bay's past four series-sealing victories, including Game 6 of last year's Final against the Dallas Stars.

The Lightning, who have now won 13 consecutive playoff games following a defeat, maintained momentum for almost the whole game.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots in a Herculean effort for the Islanders, whose skaters struggled to provide offense for him, yet again. The Islanders either trailed or were tied after the first period in all 19 of their playoff games this year and were shut out in their final two road games during the semifinal series.

The Islanders have been eliminated by the Lightning in the semifinals in consecutive years.

"It sucks getting back to this point, coming up short again," Islanders forward Mathew Barzal said. "Guys like Bails and Greener (Josh Bailey and Andy Greene), you want to win for those guys. It sucks knowing how close we were."

Barzal added, "It's not our time. Hopefully we'll be back next year."

Despite losing out to the Lightning again, the Islanders can take solace in another outstanding season.

"Back to back, being in the last four teams, that's not a fluke," New York forward Scott Mayfield said. "We believe in ourselves. We're a confident group. This stings right now."

Islanders coach Barry Trotz added, "I said to them, this group is special. Their character, their work ethic, it's undeniable. Our group believed we could do this. We still could. Some guys are beat up, worn out, hurt, and they just keep going. There's a bond between the players that's really strong."

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
 
NY Islanders   Tampa Bay
N/A Points Yanni Gourde 1
N/A Goals Yanni Gourde 1
N/A Assists Anthony Cirelli 1
N/A Power Play Goals N/A
N/A Short Handed Goals Yanni Gourde 1
Semyon Varlamov .968 Save Percentage Andrei Vasilevskiy 1.000
Semyon Varlamov 30 Saves Andrei Vasilevskiy 18
Team Stats Summary
 
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
NY Islanders 18 0 0-1 0-0 0 18
Tampa Bay 31 1 0-0 1-1 2 18
Upcoming Games
  • Tampa Bay will play their next game at home against Montreal. The Lightning have a W/L % of .639 after a win and .632 after a loss.