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For just the second time since the turn of the century, the NHL champion reigns for a second consecutive season. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game Five at home on Wednesday night, cementing their back-to-back champion status after taking home the Stanley Cup in 2020 as well. Young Ross Colton scored the only goal of the game early in the second period and his teammates played tough defense to keep Montreal off the board for a shutout win to seal it.

The 2020-21 season was far different for the Lightning, though. In 2019-20, Tampa was a wire-to-wire favorite, leading the league in goals for and finishing second in goal differential, which earned them a share of the third-best record in the league. This year, the Lightning had their fair share of issues along the way, finishing only third in their own division and eighth overall in the league, falling to eighth in scoring and seventh in differential. Yet, in the postseason they were even better this time around than they were last year. In the 2020 playoffs, the Bolts recorded 3.08 goals for per game and 2.28 goals against per game, finished fifth in power play and penalty kill efficiency, and required extra time to win seven games. This year, Tampa Bay notched 3.26 goals for per game and led the postseason with 1.96 goals against per game, finished third and fourth respectively on the power play and penalty kill, and did not need overtime to win a single game.