Stephen: Lightning hoist Stanley Cup, NHL touts bubble success

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The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup trophy on Monday night. As ESPN reports, the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 2-0 to win the NHL championship. Their win marked the end of probably the most unusual postseason ever for the league, which took place in a bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brayden Point scored his playoff-best 14th goal during a first-period power play to kick off the night for the Lightning on Monday. Then Blake Coleman scored for the Lightning in the second period. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for his first postseason shutout.

“It takes a lot to be in a bubble for 80 days or whatever long it was,” said the Lightning’s Victor Hedman, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. “But it’s all worth it now. We’re coming home with the Cup.” The Lightning won the series 4-2 to capture their first Stanley Cup since 2004.

The NHL’s bubble is being lauded as a huge success, with over 33,000 COVID-19 tests performed and 10 straight weeks of negative results coming over the course of the league concluding the 2019-20 season. Other major pro sports have seen mixed successes with their own bubble systems while others have opted to go without one. The NHL continues to plan its return to play for next season, with the concept of hybrid bubbles being considered. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said that it likely won’t go on for the full season.

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