TAMPA, Fla. - There’s only one game standing between the Bolts and keeping the Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay, but first, they have to get through Game 4.
The Lightning haven’t been giving the Montreal Canadiens a taste of victory in the Stanley Cup Final. A win on Monday night not only would mean they become Stanley Cup champions for the second year in a row, but it would mean a complete sweep.
It’s been done before, but it’s not easy to do. The last time the Stanley Cup was won in four games was in 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals. If the Bolts win Monday, it would be a victory that goes down in the history books.
While fans support their team, there has been a bit of debate on social media – and even Mayor Jane Castor has gotten in on it herself – with some hoping that the Bolts actually lose Monday in order to clinch the Cup at home during Game 5.
"What we would like is for the Lightning to take it a little bit easy, to give the Canadiens just the smallest break, allow them to win one at home, and then bring it back to the Amalie Arena for the final winning of the Stanley Cup," Castor said. "But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves."
Now, it’s not over until it’s over. Only one team in NHL history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the Stanley Cup. That was the Maple Leafs back in 1942.
Family members of the Lightning were not given an exemption by the Canadian government to cross the border for the possible festivities, so it would be reminiscent of September when Tampa Bay won in the bubble in Edmonton, Alberta.
"That (thought) will never sneak into our locker room," coach Jon Cooper said Sunday after an optional practice. "It’s about winning. It’s not about where you win. And that’s all we care about."
Cooper and captain Steven Stamkos said the team has learned from previous situations losing close-out games and knows better than to take anything as a given in the playoffs. The Lightning lost to the Islanders and Stars last year in the first chance to eliminate each opponent and did the same last round against the Isles.
"We’ve been in this position before: We understand the magnitude of the game," Stamkos said. "We’re focused on the start of the next game. All those other things work themselves out. You never know what’s going to happen in the course of a game or a series, so we’re focused on our start next game."
Game 4 will begin at 8 p.m. If there is a Game 5, it will be at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.