TAMPA – A crowd of 18,110 arrived on the riverfront Wednesday night expecting to see their team win the Stanley Cup for a second straight year and third time overall.

They were not disappointed.

Certainly not by the outcome, a 1-0 Lightning victory, nor by the edge-of-your seat action that seemingly persisted from the drop of the puck.

Ross Colton’s goal with 6:33 remaining in the second period will go down in Lightning lore. The feed from the right circle by David Savard wasn’t too bad, either. Colton got position in front of Montreal goalie Carey Price and redirected Savard’s setup past Price and into the hearts of Tampa Bay fans.

That was all that was needed thanks to tight checking, shot blocking, goaltending and sacrifice the Lightning played with throughout.

Sacrifice? Perhaps no such moment was more memorable than Barclay Goodrow laying out to block a Shea Weber blast with about seven minutes remaining in the game. It was all he could do to get up and make his way to the bench, his teammates tapping the boards in appreciation of his effort. Remarkably, Goodrow did not miss a shift, something the crowd noticed and responded with a standing ovation.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 10-bell save on Brendan Gallagher seconds before Goodrow’s block, one of 22 the Conn Smythe-winning goalie made. It was his fifth shutout of the postseason, four coming in the series clinchers.

“It’s obviously something the whole team deserves,” said Vasilevskiy, of the Conn Smythe. “To have five shutouts in one playoff is all about the team. It’s not about me. It’s about the team.”

As much as Amalie Arena was rocking and rolling, the tension that was building could be cut with the proverbial knife. That is the way the Stanley Cup playoffs are and should be. Especially, when the postseason reaches this stage.

While all Stanley Cup victories are different, this one capped a season in which fans were not permitted at Amalie Arena when the puck dropped on a 60-game regular season in January. Of course, last summer’s Cup was won in the Edmonton bubble in front of nary a fan.

Had the Lightning won in Montreal, well, great. However, with only 3,500 fans permitted in the Bell Centre and the league prohibiting family and friends from making the trip from Tampa, Montreal was essentially another bubble.

“It is tough to put into words after what we had to go through in the bubble last year,” said Ryan McDonagh, who fed Savard in the circle and got the second assist on the lone goal. “We really wanted to seize the opportunity tonight in front of the crowd, in front of family.”

Said Steven Stamkos, “We were motivated to win here tonight. Obviously, we won the Stanley Cup last year, but we didn’t get to do it in front of our crowd, our family and our friends. This is unbelievable.”

So, yeah, this was a special time and one that will long be cherished by Lightning fans, family, friends and team staff that were on hand to see the Cup hoisted in person.

For Pat Maroon, it was his third straight Cup, a remarkable hat trick of sorts.

“I think this was the hardest one because we had like two months off and we went back-to-back,” he said, when asked about what is different about the third of his consecutive Cup wins. “To be a Stanley Cup champ three years in a row is pretty special. It takes a group of 25 men, and we did it. I love these guys.” 

So does all of Tampa Bay.

Tom Layberger is also a contributing writer for and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for, Tom also writes for and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.