Tampa Bay's victory over Dallas in the Stanley Cup Final was a logical conclusion to the season.
The Lightning spent 16 years pursuing this success and drew the right conclusions from the failure in last year's playoffs.
Then the wards of John Cooper won the regular season, but lost to Columbus in four matches in the first round of the Stanley Cup.
Domestic hockey fans were especially pleased with the fact that on Tuesday four Russians won the trophy at once: goalkeeper Andrey Vasilevsky, defender Mikhail Sergachev and strikers Nikita Kucherov with Alexander Volkov.
At the same time, Kucherov took first place in the top scorers of the tournament for elimination, and for Vasilevsky the last match of the final series with “Dallas” was the first in his career without conceded goals in the NHL playoffs.
“It’s time to do at least one shut-out, don’t it?
I already told the guys in the locker room: I am grateful to them for how great everyone played today.
We allowed the opponents to create only a few dangerous moments.
I am very grateful to them for today's “crack”, which happened in the most important match in our entire life, ”Vasilevsky said at the post-match press conference.
It is not surprising that after the final siren, Andrey's teammates, throwing off their helmets and throwing the clubs aside, rushed towards him.
In turn, Kucherov simply held on to his head, not believing in what was happening.
THE MOMENT WE BECAME CHAMPS 🏆 pic.twitter.com/B6g0ctLsxc
- Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 29, 2020
I showed the camera and the faces of the Dallas hockey players.
Many of them sank to the ice with no strength.
They had the opportunity to sensationally win the trophy, but they performed a miracle even without that, reaching the final.
And the main creator of this miracle was another Russian goalkeeper Anton Khudobin.
One of the most memorable moments of the post-match handshake is the intersection of two domestic goalkeepers.
They exchanged a few words, and Anton found the strength to congratulate his compatriot.
“I respect everyone.
This is a men's sport.
What happens on the ice remains on the ice.
It doesn't matter what language you speak.
Actually, you are going to war before the match.
But when it's over, you return to normal human life.
I just congratulated Vasilevsky.
It's not easy to win the Stanley Cup.
This is a very difficult trophy.
But, finally, they did it.
Therefore, on my part there were only congratulations, ”the official website of the NHL quotes Khudobin as saying.
An unbelievable series and nothing but respect
Congratulations @TBLightning on winning the Stanley Cup 🤝 pic.twitter.com/F67KTgcYCt
- Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 29, 2020
Next, the Tampa hockey players finally got the Cup.
Moreover, league commissioner Gary Bettman, contrary to coronavirus regulations, allowed the whole team to participate in the ceremony.
“I think it was a wonderful gesture from Bettman.
We sat in this bubble for 65 days.
I know that there were 28 hockey players, but there are 52 of us in total, and in my opinion, it's just great that we all were able to participate in the presentation of the Cup, ”Cooper said.
- Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 29, 2020
The first to lift the trophy overhead was Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who had only one playoff game due to injury.
“I still can't believe what happened.
I am proud of every player on this team.
It was very interesting to watch them.
They inspired me.
It is difficult to find words now ... This is amazing, ”said Stamkos.
Further, the trophy from the hands of the captain passed to the Swedish defender Viktor Hedman, who was recognized as the most valuable hockey player in the playoffs.
Later he gave an emotional speech to reporters.
“I couldn't even imagine that one day I would win the Stanley Cup.
This is a dream, this is a dream - sensations are so unreal now.
This is what you dream of playing as a child on the street.
This is what you imagine every day.
The last two matches turned out to be difficult not only physically, they were also difficult mentally.
You try to force yourself not to think about the Cup, but you can't help yourself.
You think about him non-stop: before the match, during the match.
And you say to yourself: well, it can't be!
Before the game, today I even removed the phone out of sight.
Maybe that's why it all happened?
This is too cool to be true.
I simply have no words, ”said the Swede at a press conference.
Kucherov was the first to lift the Stanley Cup over his head.
Nikita gave the trophy to Vasilevsky.
Volkov also took part in the ceremony.
The last match of the final series against Dallas was his first in the playoffs.
It was the 23-year-old striker who earned the removal in the middle of the starting period, which allowed Braden Point to score the decisive puck.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, you deserve this moment.
# StanleyCuppic.twitter.com / 91Ch8v7pHS
- NHL (@NHL) September 29, 2020
The celebration continued in the Tampa locker room, where the players no longer held back their emotions, pouring champagne and other drinks on each other.
And Sergachev allowed himself to smoke a cigar.
He was accompanied by his teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, who shouted “Come on, come on” into the camera in Russian.
Then the hockey players went to the press conference, which was held in video format.
Players entered the hall in threes and took turns answering journalists' questions.
The most notable person at the event was unexpectedly Kucherov, who is usually extremely laconic in dealing with the press.
“I feel luxurious.
Only I am already in such a "passed out" that I can not even tell what I feel now, "- said the striker.
A little later, Nikita, along with Alex Killorn, actually disrupted the conversation with the reporters of Point, Ryan McDonagh and Patrick Maroon, bursting into the hall.
The Russian jokingly suggested asking questions to him, after which he left the room with his teammates.
But Nikita mentioned the author of the winning goal Point.
By the way, their bunch scored 67 points for two in the playoffs.
This is the fourth result in Stanley Cup history.
“I am damn lucky to have such a partner.
He sees the court perfectly, but at the same time constantly works on feints that allow him to dominate the game.
And look what a brilliant tournament he had.
Nikita threw the most important goals, blocked shots, fought in the corners of the court, infecting the guys with his attitude.
Any hockey player will tell you how easy it is to play with those who are so partial to what they do, ”admitted Point.
But it was physically difficult for the Dallas hockey players to communicate with the press after an exhausting series.
So, the captain of the team, Jamie Benn, had difficulty answering only one question out of three.
But Khudobin satisfied the interest of journalists, who admitted that he was devastated, despite the fact that the Stars' exit to the final became a sensation.
“We fought for victories all season, and we were not embarrassed that we could be two or three goals behind.
We never gave up, we tried to pull out matches.
Yes, they did not always win.
But they did not give up without a fight and continued to bend their line.
Unfortunately, we didn’t pull out this ending.
But the character of the guys in this dressing room is simply incredible, ”the goalkeeper emphasized.
But Khudobin found it difficult to answer the question about his future.
According to the Russian, "a couple of negotiations" with the club await him.
“Guys, let me first digest what happened to us.
We'll digest this whole playoffs.
I think I will have a couple of negotiations with Dallas ahead.
Then it will be possible to answer some questions.
In the meantime, there is nothing to say.
And now I don't think about it at all.
We just finished the season.
Not the way we would like.
And I will answer your question a little later, ”added Khudobin.