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Top Playoff Moments: No. 5 - Fans pack Lightning watch parties

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

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.

Why 11?

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.

11. STAMKOS HEADLOCKS QUINCEY, RED WINGS INTO SUBMISSION
10. KUCH COMES TO THE RESCUE (PART I)
9. STAMKOS ENDS GOAL DROUGHT
8. KUCH COMES TO THE RESCUE (PART II)
7. TYLER JOHNSON HATTY IN NEW YORK
6. BRAYDON COBURN SEALS GAME 7 VICTORY AGAINST DETROIT
5. LIGHTNING FANS PACK WATCH PARTIES


The evolution of the Lightning watch parties was quite remarkable to track.

Beginning in the courtyard of Channelside Bay Plaza during Game 3 of the First Round series versus Detroit, the watch parties kept expanding as more and more people showed, eventually spilling over into the wharf along Garrison Channel.

The location was moved to the roomier Curtis Hixon Park for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, where more than 5,000 stayed even as rain pelted fans and knocked out power to the large-screen TV, forcing watch-goers to listen to the Bolts’ radio call for a short period while the system rebooted.

The celebration culminated at Amalie Arena, where 16,909 fans viewed Game 6 on Lightning Vision, the Bolts’ supersized, in-arena Jumbotron.

To recap: a near-capacity crowd -- a sellout at Amalie is 19,204 -- watched a hockey game inside an arena in Florida where no live hockey was being played. The pictures from inside an energized Amalie made their way across social media, where national pundits marveled at the support the Lightning received and proclaimed the Tampa Bay area a legitimate hockey hotbed (as if Lightning fans needed the confirmation).

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