Showtime Sports on Friday aired the second episode of "ALL ACCESS: Quest for the Stanley Cup," which chronicles the Eastern and Western Conference Final series and the Stanley Cup Final. It's the first show to nationally televise the championship of one of the four major North American sports as it unfolds. It is narrated by 2016 Tony Award nominee Bill Camp.
The second episode begins with the Tampa Bay Lightning and captain Steven Stamkos practicing for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stamkos had surgery to treat a blood clot in April and had not played since March 31.
"The toughest part is knowing physically you feel OK, especially at this time of year in the playoffs, you want to be out there helping your teammates, but you have to make sure you give yourself a chance to get ready for when that day comes and you are hopefully cleared to play," Stamkos says.
Tampa Bay trails the series 2-1 with Game 4 at Amalie Arena. Tyler Johnson scores in the second period to give the Lightning a 4-0 lead. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who hasn't played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a concussion, enters in the third period in relief of rookie Matt Murray. The Penguins rally with three goals but come up short, and the Lightning tie the series 2-2.
"No doubt in my mind you deserved to win that hockey game tonight," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper says. "When we dictate the pace, that's what happens."
Johnson, who was hit in the face by a puck in warmups and scored, gets the jacket as the Lightning's player of the game.
"Now you have to take a puck to the face every warmup," Cooper says. "Every warmup, somebody shoot one at Johnny's face. Let's go get Game 5, fellas."
Allen gets the call in St. Louis
Coming of a 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 and trailing the Western Conference Final 2-1, Jake Allen makes his first start of the playoffs for the St. Louis Blues in Game 4, replacing Brian Elliott, who had played all 17 postseason games.
St. Louis takes a 4-0 lead after the second period. The Sharks pull Martin Jones in favor of James Reimer and things get testy, with numerous penalties in the third period. The Blues win 6-3 to tie the series.
Pivotal Game 5s
Fleury gets the call for Game 5, his first start of the 2016 playoffs. Pittsburgh takes a 2-0 lead less than two minutes into the second period, but Tampa Bay scores twice in the period to tie it 2-2. Chris Kunitz scores late in the second, but the Penguins can't hold the 3-2 lead. Nikita Kucherov scores late in the third period before Johnson scores in overtime to give the Lightning a 3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead.
"We've come this far," Cooper says. "We are coming back to our home fans, our home barn. This is it. Seize this moment."
In St. Louis, the Blues hope to take advantage of playing on home ice but come out flat in a 6-3 loss to the Sharks and trail the series 3-2.
Lightning can clinch on home ice
Fleury, who allowed four goals on 25 shots and didn't look sharp in Game 5, is benched in favor of Murray with the Penguins needing a win to keep their season alive. Jonathan Drouin gives the Lightning a 1-0 lead, but the Penguins challenge that the play was offside, and the goal is overturned. It turns out to be a key moment in the game because Phil Kessel scores soon after to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby score in the second period
"It's your time. We've been here before," Cooper says, trying to will the Lightning back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season.
Tampa Bay comes out firing in the third, getting two goals from Brian Boyle, and the Lightning trail by a goal after being outplayed all game. They are unable to tie it, though, allowing two late goals and losing 5-2. The series will go to Game 7.
"These are situations that you dream about growing up and we showed what we can do in that type of situation," Crosby says. "We just have to do it again [in Game 7].
Sharks make history
San Jose has never been this close to the Stanley Cup Final. With Game 6 on home ice, they come out and dominate from the start. The game is never really in doubt; the Sharks have a 4-0 lead halfway through the third period before Vladimir Tarasenko scores two quick goals for the Blues. Logan Couture then puts one into an empty net to send SAP Center into a frenzy.
"Erase the names Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau from that list of players who have never gone to the Stanely Cup Final," announcer Kenny Albert says.
"You dream of getting the chance to play for this," Sharks defenseman Brent Burns says. "It's a great feeling. We know we've got one more step to take."
In the other locker room, the mood is understandably somber. Blues captain David Backes can't help but show his emotions following the loss.
"Game 5, I'm not feeling well and Steve Ott brings me something to help me feel better knowing that he is the guy who's coming out of the lineup if I play. That is pretty selfless. That's the kind of guys we have in here. Just stories like that ... it's tough to swallow, but we know that the heart is in here and the ability is in here. We just came up short."
Lightning at Penguins, Game 7
Cooper opens his pregame press conference by saying he won't talk about the lineup, specifically whether Stamkos will play. It remains a mystery up until game time. Stamkos dresses and participates in warmups, then plays.
Bryan Rust scores the game's first goal in the second period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Drouin responds to tie it 1-1, but Rust scores his second of the game 30 seconds later to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead that it does not relinquish.
Chants of "We want the Cup!" break out in Consol Energy Center as the final seconds tick off the clock and the Penguins win the series to advance to the Cup Final for the first time since winning it all in 2009.
The show ends with footage of the Penguins and Sharks celebrating on the ice and in their locker room.
"When you are part of something that's bigger than yourself, it's a special feeling," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says. "And I know these guys have it right now."
The episode will be available across multiple television and streaming providers' devices, websites, applications, Facebook pages, and free On Demand channels.
An encore presentation of the episode will air Saturday, May 28, at 12 a.m. ET on Sportsnet in Canada. For a worldwide listing of air dates and times, check listings here.