The Tampa Bay Lightning capped an incredible run through the postseason with the franchise’s second-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Although the Lightning were defeated by the Chicago Blackhawks in six tight Cup Final games, the playoff ride will be remembered by Tampa Bay fans for its resilience and exhilaration.
In one final salute to the 2014-15 Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning, we’ve ranked the top 11 Bolts’ moments from the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Because there were too many candidates to squeeze into just 10 spots.
Relive the Bolts’ journey to the Stanley Cup Final and enjoy the experience for a second time.
1. 1. (Tie) Winning the Eastern Conference Championship and Tyler Johnson's come-from-behind victory
The New York Rangers were unbeatable in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden. At least, that was the media drumbeat leading up to the winner-take-all match between Tampa Bay and New York to see which team would represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers were 7-0 in Game 7s in New York.
New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was near-impenetrable during those games, recording a perfect 6-0 record.
Yet, history and prior experience mattered little to the Tampa Bay Lightning, playing just their third ECF Game 7 in franchise history.
Sixty minutes from advancing to their second-ever Cup Final, the Lightning put together a flawless effort in the world’s most famous arena.
Ben Bishop stopped all 22 Rangers shots, recording his third postseason shutout and second in a Game 7.
Tampa Bay’s defensemen kept Bishop from facing heavy pressure, clamping down on the Rangers attack and limiting their prime scoring chances to an insignificant handful.
Alex Killorn scored the only goal the Lightning would need 1:54 into the final period, pirouetting and backhanding a shot from the slot that slipped underneath Lundqvist.
Ondrej Palat provided the dagger, scoring with just under nine minutes to go for an insurmountable 2-0 lead.
Following the historic win, a mob scene broke out behind Bishop’s goal, the Lightning filing onto the ice to jump, pile and celebrate with their triumphant goalie.
The win over the Rangers will go down as one of the greatest victories in Tampa Bay Lightning history.
But, it’s a win that might not have happened if not for…
Down 2-0 to Detroit late in Game 4, the Lightning were less than six minutes from falling behind three-games-to-one in their opening round series, a deficit that might have proven to be too much to overcome for relatively inexperienced playoff participant Bolts.
But the Triplets sparked a monumental comeback, silencing a raucous Joe Louis Arena crowd.
And in the process, they may have saved Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup run, which was on the verge of being extinguished in the First Round for a second-straight season.
Tyler Johnson glided around Detroit’s Darren Helm on the left wing and beat Petr Mrazek at the far post to cut the Bolts’ deficit to one with 5:26 to go and end a nearly 175-minute scoring drought in Detroit.
A little over a minute later, Ondrej Palat tied the game, his give-and-go with Johnson culminating in an open look for Palat in the crease, which he buried with a one-timer.
Given new life, the Lightning completed the improbable comeback early in overtime, Victor Hedman leading a 3-on-1 rush from the right wing and crossing to the far post for a wide-open Johnson, who scored easily on an out-of-position Mrazek 2:25 into the extra period.
Without the Bolts’ Game 4 heroics, who knows if the rest of this list is even possible.