This day in history is a day that no one in the Bolts Nation will ever forget. On June 7, 2004 our Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Lightning brought the Stanley Cup home to Tampa Bay for the first time in franchise history.
Two goals, one single moment in time, changed the face of hockey in Tampa Bay forever.
The Stanley Cup wasn’t the only award handed out on that emotional night. In every playoff series, an MVP must be crowned. This year would be no different. The winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the Most Valuable Player of the National Hockey League playoffs, was awarded to Lightning center Brad Richards.
During the regular season, Richards scored 26 goals and 53 assists for a total of 79 points. This would make him the third highest point scorer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. During the playoffs, Richards really stepped up his game, taking over the reins in the point scoring department. In the 23 playoff games the Lightning played in the 2003-04 season, Richards scored 12 goals and 14 assists for a total of 26 points, and earned himself a plus-5 rating.
You want to relive the moment one more time? The video below (via YouTube) was originally broadcast by ABC Sports. As the final seconds tick off of the clock, you can almost feel the excitement building up just like back in 2004.
Another contributing factor, a pretty big one if I do say so myself, is the absolutely solid performance from net minder Nikolai Khabibulin, affectionately known by Lightning fans as the ‘Bulin Wall’.
During the regular season, the Sverdlovsk, Russia native had a Goals Allowed Average of 2.33, and a Save Percentage of .910. That was just the beginning. Khabibulin played in all 23 of the Lightning playoff games that season, in which time he had a GAA of 1.71, and a Save Percentage of .933.
It was Khabibulin that stopped a puck from entering the net as the very last second rolled off of the clock, essentially saving the game from going into overtime.
Below is a video (also from YouTube) of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presenting the cup to Andreychuk. Original broadcast was made by ABC Sports.
It is moments like this in hockey history that prove that the Tampa Bay Lightning are masters of the impossible. People said that a little team from Florida would never hold the cup up high. But on June 7, 2004 we proved them all wrong.
While last season may have left Lightning loyalists with a bitter taste in their mouth, there is one thing that I know for sure. While we may seem down, I guarantee that we are never out. Quit is a word that players like Martin St. Louis, who has the heart and soul of a lion, don’t even have a definition for.
The Lightning have made moves to secure the future of the franchise. One of which is the signing of defenseman Radko Gudas. Another name you may see in the lineup next year is Tyler Johnson. His AHL leading 37 goals scored this season have led the Syracuse Crunch to their first trip to the Calder Cup Finals in the franchise’s 19-year history; further proving that just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it can’t.
I know that my team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, can and will hold the cup up high once again for all to see. All we have to do…is believe.
Where were you when the buzzer sounded for the last time in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs? What did you feel watching Andreychuk, Richards, St. Louis, and even current Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier holding the cup in the air to a packed house at the then St. Pete Times Forum? Let us know in the comments below.