Tampa Bay's Anthony Cirelli scored 13:18 into overtime in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night, and the Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders in Edmonton.
Cirelli took a feed from Barclay Goodrow from behind the net and fired frompoint-blank range. The puck bounced off the post, skittered along the goal line and then ticked off goalie Semyon Varlamov's skate and into the back of the net to end the best-of-seven series.
Cirelli raised his arms in celebration moments before the red light went on and the officials acknowledged it was a goal.
Victor Hedman scored in the first period and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 26 saves for the Lightning, who will face the Dallas Stars for the Stanley Cup. Game 1 of the best-of-seven championship series is scheduled for Saturday.
The Finals berth is the third for the Lightning, who won it all by beating the Calgary Flames in 2004 and fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.
Devon Toews scored in the first period and Varlamov made 46 saves for the Islanders, who were in seventh place in the Eastern Conference when the pandemic ended the regular season before reaching the conference finals for the first time in 27 years.
After combining for just two regulation goals in Game 5, the teams traded goals in a span of 2:23 early in the first period of Game 6.
The Islanders took a short-lived lead on an impressive individual effort by Toews, who streaked to the left side of the crease as he received a pass from Anders Lee. Toews deked as if he planned to shoot, and with Vasilevskiy committed, instead skated around the net and tucked home a shot into the right corner of the net that ticked off the Vasilevskiy's skate at the 4:15 mark.
The Lightning took advantage of a rare defensive breakdown by the Islanders to tie the game. Varlamov deflected a shot by Erik Cernak, but no New York player pounced on the rebound. Hedman swooped in between defensemen Scott Mayfield and Nick Leddy and fired a shot past the outstretched stick of Mayfield and over Varlamov's stick arm.
The Lightning outshot the Islanders 17-6 in the first period and had the first seven shots of the second but could not break the tie despite getting four unanswered shots during back-to-back power plays in the first 10 minutes.
New York nearly took the lead just before the horn of the second period, but Matt Martin couldn't get his stick fully on a point-blank opportunity in the crease and Vasilevskiy smothered the puck with 3.1 seconds left.
The teams traded prime scoring chances in the final minutes of regulation. A pass from New York's Jordan Eberle sailed wide of Mathew Barzal, who was streaking toward the crease, with about 3:30 left. Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat almost scored with 1:15 left, when his shot from the doorstep was smothered by Varlamov, who was looking behind him when the puck landed beneath him.
In the overtime, Vasilevskiy turned back a short-handed breakaway by Brock Nelson, and a shot by Palat sailed behind Varlamov and out of the crease.
--Field Level Media