Back to the Stanley Cup final they go!!!
Yanni Gourde scored the lone goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 18 saves for his 5th career playoff shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 1-0 in Game 7 to win their best-of-seven series 4-3 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year.
Game 1 of the Final will be Monday night at Amalie Arena against the Montreal Canadiens at 8pm.
Vasilevskiy has now closed the last four playoff series out with a shutout.
The scoresheet was clean after the first period, with no goals or penalties from either team.
That all changed when Barclay Goodrow was whistled for cross-checking just 50 seconds into the 2nd, but it was the Lightning who were able cash in.
Following some sustained zone time for the Islanders, Bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh was able to find a loose puck but instead of icing it, he held on and found Alex Killorn in the neutral zone. Killorn chipped the puck ahead to Anthony Cirelli and went for a change. Cirelli went to work in the New York zone and found Gourde, who came on for Killorn, speeding into the play and Yanni sniped one over the glove of New York netminder Semyon Varlamov to make it 1-0 Tampa Bay.
The Islanders pushed and pushed for the equalizer but the Lightning's defense remained stingy all night long.
Nikita Kucherov, who was knocked out of Game 6 after just one shift & 46 seconds, returned to the lineup tonight for Game 7 and played 16:29.
Tampa Bay dignitaries Titus O'Neil, Mayor Jane Castor, former Bucs LB/Super Bowl Champ/Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks & Bucs LG/Super Bowl Champ Ali Marpet were all in the building enjoying the night's festivities.
Varlamov, who had one heck of a series, stopped 30 of the 31 shots he saw on the evening.
- Tampa Bay - SHG - Gourde - (Cirelli, Killorn) -
- Tampa Bay - Goodrow - (Cross Checking) - 0:50
PHOTO : Getty Images