After the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Wednesday night to end the final in five games and win their second championship in 10 months, captain Steven Stamkos hoisted the Stanley Cup in front of 18,110 fans—18,110 more than the last time he did back in September. Pyrotechnics went off around him to celebrate not only Tampa Bay winning during a pandemic once again but the end of another grueling season played against the backdrops of protocols, restrictions, and heartbreak, the AP reports. As Stamkos took another lap with the Cup, players held up their phones to capture video of the fans in Amalie Arena, the confetti, and the joy of being able to really, truly celebrate. "To do it in front of our fans and our families, it’s so special," defenseman Victor Hedman said. “It’s out of this world."
"Full arena, incredible energy, and another championship in Tampa," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "It feels like things are normal." The scene couldn't have been any further from the mirthless, empty arena where the Lightning won the Cup last September in a quarantined bubble across the continent in Edmonton, Alberta. Tampa Bay joined Pittsburgh as the only back-to-back Cup winner in the salary cap era, but even more impressively did it in the shortest span between championships in the long history of the NHL. Never losing twice in a row thanks to playoff MVP goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy's brilliance and one of the deepest rosters constructed since the cap was implemented in 2005, the Lightning solidified their status as a modern-day dynasty.
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