TAMPA, Fla. – Steven Stamkos scored two goals, and the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year after beating the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night.
Stamkos put the Lightning ahead for good in the third period just 21 seconds after the Rangers’ Frank Vatrano scored on a power play with the Lightning captain in the penalty box for holding.
Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat assisted on the winner with 6 ½ minutes left, with the puck deflecting off Stamkos’ knee and into the net after Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin stopped the initial shot. Stamkos also scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle midway through the second period.
Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 20 saves for the Lightning, who won the series 4-2 – rattling off four straight victories after losing the first two games on the road – to advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche.
Game 1 is Wednesday night in Denver.