2004 Stanley Cup Final
Martin St. Louis
The NHL 2004 Stanley Cup Final had the East’s top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the West’s sixth-seeded Calgary Flames. The 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning were making their first Final appearance, and the Flames hadn’t been to the Final since winning the Cup in 1989.
It turned out to be one of the tensest Stanley Cup Final series in recent memory.
Tampa Bay had racked up 106 points during the regular season. To reach the Final, it beat the New York Islanders 4-1 in the first round, then swept the Montreal Canadiens 4-0, and nipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in a hard-fought, seesaw battle.
In the West, Calgary slipped past the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in the first round, then beat the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings 4-2, and then eliminated the San Jose Sharks in the Eastern Conference Finals by the same 4-2 margin.
2004 Stanley Cup Final — Series Recap
- Game 1 of the 2004 Final took place in Tampa on May 25. The Flames jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Martin Gelinas, Jarome Iginla and Stephane Yelle. In the third period, the Lightning got on the board with a power-play goal by Martin St. Louis, but it wasn’t enough. Calgary won 4-1 and let Tampa Bay know it was going to be a hard-fought series.
- Game 2, played in Tampa on May 27, was a mirror image of Game 1 — the same 4-1 score, only with the Lightning coming out on top. Tampa Bay scored four unanswered goals — by Ruslan Fedotenko, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and St. Louis. Ville Nieminen scored for Calgary on a power play late in the game, but it was hardly enough, and the series was tied 1-1.
- Game 3 was played in Calgary on May 29. The Flames defense and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff played brilliantly en route to 3-0 victory. Calgary got goals from Chris Simon, Shean Donovan and Iginla to give the upstart Flames a 2-1 series lead.
- Game 4 was played in Calgary on May 31. This time, it was Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin who got the shutout, with Tampa winning 1-0 thanks to a first-period power play goal from Richards.
- Game 5 was in Tampa on June 3. In a tense contest, the score was 2-2 after an early third-period power-play goal from Tampa’s Fredrik Modin. The tie held for the rest of the third period, sending the game into overtime for the first time in the series. After 14:40 of overtime play, Oleg Saprykin scored to give Calgary a 3-2 win — and a 3-2 lead in the series. An impressive road win for the No. 6 seed!
- Game 6 was June 5 in Calgary. With the score tied 2-2 after the second period, neither team could score in the third, forcing an overtime for the second consecutive contest. A Flames goal would give them the Cup, but St. Louis scored for Tampa on a power play only 33 seconds into OT to even the series and set up a Game 7.
- Game 7 was in Tampa on June 7. By now, fans of both teams were nervous wrecks — but it wouldn’t get any easier for them in the decisive seventh game. Fedotenko scored twice for the Lightning, giving them a 2-0 lead after two periods. Craig Conroy made it 2-1 with a power-play goal for Calgary at 9:21 of the third period. Could Tampa hold on in its debut Final appearance and win the Stanley Cup? Indeed, it could. Both teams went scoreless from that point, giving Tampa a 2-1 victory and a 4-3 series win — and along with it, the Stanley Cup. The game was another tight struggle, with the Flames (17) and Lightning (15) combining for 32 shots on goal.
(Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons)