Tampa Bay Lightning: 10 Best Performances In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

3. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Lightning clinch berth to Stanley Cup Finals with game seven win 

Saturday, May 22, 2004

If you were in Amalie Arena (then the St. Pete Times Forum) on this date in 2004, you will understand this when I say I have never been to a hockey game with as much passion and energy as the arena had on that night. This was not just any game, but the game that would determine if the Tampa Bay Lightning would earn their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.

After falling to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 back in Philly in game six, the series would shift back to Tampa for the final game of the hard fought series. It was a game for the ages and one that will stay in the minds of Tampa Bay Lightning fans forever.

The Lightning would get on the board first when forward Ruslan Fedotenko redirected a Brad Richards point shot back Flyers goaltender Robert Esche. The team was able to capitalize on an early power play that would allow the young team to get on the board first in this pivotal game seven.

The Lightning were able to strike again in the second period when forward Fredrik Modin battled for a loose puck in front of the crease and was able to slam the puck past Esche. This goal by Modin would end up being the game winner as Philadelphia began to rally back later in the period.

The Flyers got on the board late in the second period when defenseman Kim Johnson cut toward the middle of  the ice and wristed a shot through the legs of Lightning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. As the team learned in game 6, the Flyers were too good of a team to sit back and play prevent defense after getting a lead. That goal by Philly woke up the team and allowed them to get back to the style of play that helped them get to this point.

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The Lightning took control of the third period by pressuring the Flyers defense and putting quality chances on frame against Esche. However, the Flyers goaltender was able to keep the deficit to one as he stopped all eight shots he faced in the period, including a point blank one timer from forward Brad Richards.

What won the game for the Lightning that night was not just the offense, but the still defense the team played throughout the night, especially in the third period. The Lightning defense, led by Darryl Sydor and Dan Boyle, were able to limit the Flyers to 23 shots in the game. Nikolai Khabibulin played outstanding, stopping 22/23 Flyer shots in the win.

This victory took a total team effort against a Flyers team who had many great scorers on the roster. It took everything they had, but the young Lightning team was able to capitalize on the chances they had and earned their first trip tot he Stanley Cup Finals. From there, we know the rest is history.

Next: A Heart-Stopping Double Overtime Victory