Friday, May 27, 2016
Lightning falls just short of goal
By Tom Jones
May 26, 2016
The Penguins celebrate winning the Eastern Conference as Lightning center Valtteri Filppula skates off Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Filppula had an assist on the Lightning’s only goal, scored by Jonathan Drouin. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves. DIRK SHADD | Times
PITTSBURGH - One year ago, the Lightning sat in its locker room at Chicago's United Center, crestfallen over losing in the Stanley Cup final. Players vowed to remember that pain and use it as fuel to get back to this year's Stanley Cup final. That was the goal. That was the mission. It won't happen. Now that pain is only amplified. A similarly heartbroken locker room could be found Thursday night in Pittsburgh. The Lightning's season of destiny came one goal short of its mission, one game shy of a return trip to the Stanley Cup, the result of a gut-wrenching and frustrating 2-1 loss Thursday night at Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Not even the stunning return of captain and leading scorer Steven Stamkos, who had been out since the end of March with a blood clot, could push the Lightning closer to its dream. "It stings right now," Stamkos said. "This is where we were at last year and we had a good chance to get there this year. … At the end of the day, all the adversity we overcame as a group … we just feel horrible."