Tampa Bay Lightning: 10 Best Performances In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Calgary Flames

Game 6 – Stanley Cup Finals

Saturday, June 5, 2004

The Tampa Bay Lightning undeniably had their best season during the 2003-2004 National Hockey League season. When the final buzzer sounded, the Tampa Bay Lightning ended the regular season with 46 wins, going 46-22-8-6 for a total of 106 points. Some may look at this as the end, but this was only the beginning for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In the first round of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning would come face to face with New York Islanders. The Lightning would capture the first win in a 3-0 shutout win over the Isles, but the Islanders would come back to return the favor in Game 2. From that point, it was all about the Bolts as they would sweep the next three games and move on to the next round.

Next, the Tampa Bay Lightning would go head-to-head with an all-too-familiar for, the Montreal Canadiens. Thankfully for the Lightning, they wouldn’t have much difficulty with the Canadiens this year. Barring one game in which the Canadiens were able to take the Lightning to overtime, the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled out their brooms and swept the Canadiens and advanced to the Semi-Finals.

In the Semi-Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning would have to face the hard-hitting, rough and tumble Philadelphia Flyers. This series went back and forth in what looked like a killer tennis match, but in the end it was the Tampa Bay Lightning who would emerge victorious and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

This is where the real fun began. Calgary took no time in showing the Tampa Bay Lightning that this was going to be an uphill battle for the Bolts. In Game 1, the Flames put a real beating on the new Eastern Conference Champions with a 4-1 win in what was formally known as the St. Pete Times Forum.

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In Game 2, the Lightning returned the favor in front of their hometown crowd by defeating the Western Conference Champion Flames 4-1. In what looked to be another grueling tennis match, the Calgary Flames would deliver a 3-0 shutout win over the Bolts in Game 3. A favor that would be returned post haste by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 with a 1-0 shutout win over the Flames.

It would take an overtime period to decide a victor, but the Calgary Flames would throw the Tampa Bay Lightning against the wall with a 3-2 OT win at the St. Pete Times Forum. This would put the Lightning in a do or die position. If the Lightning were able to capture a win in Game 6, they would move on to Game 7 and have a chance to raise the Stanley Cup high above their heads. Lose, and their dreams would fade away into the night and the Calgary Flames would hoist the Cup up high.

The first period of Game 6 was an arduous one for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames. Each team would put six Shots on Goal, but neither team would be able to put the puck in the back of the net and earn the early lead for their team.

It wasn’t until the opening minutes of the second period that someone would finally break the ice. That someone would be former Tampa Bay Lightning center Brad Richards. With the assistance of former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis and former Lightning post-season hero Ruslan Fedotenko, Richards would capitalize on the Power Play opportunity and bring the Bolts up by one.

Of course, it wouldn’t be long until the Flames would answer with a goal of their own. It would eventually be Calgary Flames right wing Chris Clark who would sink the puck past former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and tie the game for the Flames.

Just under two minutes later, the Tampa Bay Lightning would once again find themselves with the man advantage. Flames center Craig Conway would make his way to the penalty box for Hooking former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. Once again, it would be Brad Richards who would capitalize on the opportunity and put the Bolts back out on top.

As the final minutes began to tick off the clock, the hearts of Tampa Bay Lightning fans everywhere collectively sank when Flames left wing Marcus Nilson would put the puck past Khabibulin and tie the game up for the Flames. At this point, the Tampa Bay Lightning knew the pressure was on. There was no try, this was a do or die situation for the Bolts.

Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames would put seven Shots on Goal in the third period, but once again neither team was able to pierce the other’s defenses and decide a victor in this crucial game.

It wasn’t until the second overtime period when Lightning would finally strike.

It was just a mere matter of seconds into the 2nd Overtime period when the Tampa Bay Lightning would kick things into high gear. Brad Richards would play the puck into the zone as Martin St. Louis pursued the puck behind the net. Lightning center Tim Taylor would take the shot which was redirected by Richards, but it was deflected by Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in front of the net.

Then…it happened. Martin St. Louis dug deep for the rebound, pulled back his stick, and took the shot. Just like that, the puck sailed into the back of the net and the Tampa Bay Lightning would force a Game 7 and remain in the quest for the Stanley Cup.

There is only one more moment in Tampa Bay Lightning history we could possibly imagine could be better than forcing a Game 7 and moving on to a winner take all matchup for the Stanley Cup. We wonder what that could be.

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