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Two fresh takes on Lightning’s win in Game 7 of 2004 Stanley Cup Final

The Tampa Bay Times’ Diana C. Nearhos and Mari Faiello share their impressions in real time as they watch the game for the first time.

TAMPA — What’s it like to watch a historic game for the first time? Neither of the Tampa Bay Times’ two Lightning writers had seen Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final against the Flames before Fox Sports Sun re-aired it Saturday night. So Diana C. Nearhos and Mari Faiello watched and chatted throughout, drawing parallels to the current Lightning team and play around the league.

You can catch the game again Sunday morning.

•••

Diana: In 2004, I wasn’t even watching the NHL. I grew up on college hockey (Boston College, including future Lightning player Brian Boyle at this point), and my family was extremely Boston-sports-centric. So it wouldn’t even have occurred to us to turn this game on. Once I got into the NHL, I learned some of these big names (Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, of course), but it wasn’t until I got here to Tampa that I put much thought into the 2004 Stanley Cup.

Mari: In 2004, I was 6 years old and didn’t even know what hockey was. Growing up, I had always heard stories about the Lightning. My uncle had season tickets for the first season when they played at the (Florida State) Fairgrounds and then kept them off and on for the next couple of decades. Hockey was far from my mind back then.

Related: Throwing beer and eating Trix: Memories of the Lightning's Stanley Cup win

•••

Diana: Wow, I forgot how bad watching hockey was back then. I guess all live sports was, but hockey seems more dramatic.

Mari: It’s just funny to think about how far the game has come from a digital standpoint. I mean, it’s hard enough to track the puck as it is today on a television broadcast. But back then? You had to have good eyesight and be committed to the sport to go through these on a daily basis.

Diana: This is how we ended up with the highlighted puck debacle.

•••

Mari: Hey, Diana, what’s MSN? Like, what’s that advertisement mean around the boards?

Diana: Such a Gen Z-er.

Mari: 🤷🏻‍♀️

•••

Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate having won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final over the Calgary Flames at the St. Pete Times Forum on June 7, 2004. [SHADD, DIRK | St. Petersburg Times]

Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin makes a dramatic save in the first period around the 13-minute mark: a glove save on his right and a quick adjustment to the left post for a sprawl out.

Mari: Khabibulin wiping out like that in the crease reminds me of an Andrei Vasilevskiy-like save. He takes the glove save and lies out on his side deflecting the puck action on his left. Amazing.

Diana: Some might say that Vasilevskiy makes Khabibulin-like saves.

Diana: I’ve never seen (Khabibulin) play before, so it’s interesting to see after all the times I’ve written his name referencing a record Vasilevskiy has broken.

Mari: And the two have never even met/been in the same room, right? At least, to my knowledge. Who knows, they could have met for coffee somewhere in Russia.

•••

Then-Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle talks about the physicality of the game right from the start during a Zoom video conference call with former teammates, coaches and management while streaming the game.

Mari: I wonder if you had today’s officials calling these games how many penalties these teams would have racked up by now? Yes, it’s the playoffs. More things are likely not to get called the same way they are in the regular season, but the point still stands. It’s a different game.

Diana: It absolutely is. Dave Andreychuk and Brad Richards said it the other day: Watching from today’s perspective, they keep saying “That’s a penalty” to something they would have been appalled to see called at the time.

Mari: Speaking of which, we have our first penalty with 8 minutes remaining in the first.

Diana: The debate of what’s a penalty in the regular season vs. the playoffs and if it should be different is timeless.

Mari: Maybe it’s just me, but this power play seems a lot more unsettled in the zone. Calgary is constantly pressing and causing disruption. They won’t let Tampa Bay set up at all.

Diana: The concept of the set-up power play, everyone in their spot, is a function of modern hockey. And the Lightning do it more than most, so our perspective is skewed toward that.

Related: What we remember about the night the Lightning won the Stanley Cup

•••

Lightning player Ruslan Fedotenko, left, leaps in the air in front of fans after scoring the first goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 7, 2004. [MCDUFFIE, DAN | St. Petersburg Times]

Forward Ruslan Fedotenko scores the opening goal with seconds remaining in the opening power play opportunity for the Lightning.

Diana: Such a tough heads-up rebound by Fedotenko. To keep separation from the guy in the slot, turn and get on the puck … oof. And I love that completely organic, kinda spazzy celly — just jumps and flails a bit in excitement

Mari: I had no idea he scored five power-play goals in 2004. That’s insane.

•••

Mari: I’m glad some things never change. Pretty sure I just heard AC/DC’s Shook Me All Night Long on the broadcast. What a classic.

Diana: I’m sure Thunderstruck was played at least once that night.

•••

Diana: Oh my goodness. I can’t believe St. Louis had a step on (Calgary defenseman) Andrew Ference and didn’t score! Such a beautiful chance.

Mari: I wonder if those chances still haunt them all these years later. They obviously wouldn’t change the result, but maybe for teams that don’t end up on the better half of the situation …

Diana: I bet Marty just cringed if he saw it now. He kept a decently straight face as he returned to the bench at the time, though. Some guys aren’t as good at that.

•••

Fedotenko scores his second goal of the night with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the second period after Lecavalier gets the puck out of the corner on a great play.

Diana: Oh, jeez, that hit on Vinny after he made the pass … that was a heckuva play to stay with the puck and make the pass, then he takes the hit.

Mari: Such a great play by Vinny.

Diana: Fedotenko’s commentary now (rewatching the game with his old teammates on Zoom): “Come on, Vinny, I’m open. Pass the puck!” 😂😂

•••

Calgary forward Chris Clark is called for a blatant frustration trip against St. Louis

Diana: I think I’ve seen a photo of Marty on the ice that came from that moment, and now I know the setting.

Mari: Isn’t it funny how the little things piece together like that now? Rewatching these games, getting to see those moments, makes much more sense seeing photos like that around Amalie (Arena) and in the archives.

Related: Covering the Stanley Cup Final was a homecoming for Erin Andrews

•••

St. Louis opens the third period with another beautiful chance that goalie Miikka Kiprusoff deflects up high

Diana: (St. Louis is) starting to show some kind of emotion about not scoring. I don’t know him well enough to know if it’s frustration or disbelief, though.

Mari: I’m trying to think of who he reminds me of most on the current roster.

Diana: I can picture a few looks of disbelief on Steven Stamkos, and we’ve seen frustration from Nikita Kucherov. Vasilevskiy has also broken a stick or two.

•••

Center Craig Conroy puts Calgary on the board, a power-play goal with about 10 minutes to play.

Diana: (Then-Lightning defenseman) Nolan Pratt was a late joiner to the team Zoom, said “I’m here just in time for my penalty.” I didn’t realize his was the penalty that leads to the goal, though. Good thing they won and can laugh about it.

Mari: It’s been almost two decades since that play, and he’s still shaking like it’s happening right now. I’m still not sure if he was more scared of Calgary scoring or the wrath of coach John Tortorella.

Diana: Also, we commented earlier on how many things were let go then vs. (are) called now, but two of three goals came on the PP.

Mari: I don’t think that call is something Lightning fans and players will ever let go, especially (center) Tim Taylor (given his Zoom reaction, ha). It might be right on up there with the whole (2018) licking escapade with (the Lightning’s) Ryan Callahan and (the Bruins’) Brad Marchand.

•••

Lightning Captain Dave Andreychuk lifts the Stanley Cup after the Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa (Monday, 6/7/04). [MCDUFFIE, DAN | St. Petersburg Times]

Diana: I thought I would have that on-edge feeling even though I know what will happen. I think the lack of emotional attachment to this game is a factor. The players on the Zoom call are leaning in and paying more attention as it gets closer.

Mari: My uncle walked in earlier as I had the game on and chuckled out the spoiler. There’s only three minutes left from the buzzer sounding to an ending we already know, and I’m still a little anxious. I guess I really just have to see it for myself.

Diana: Okay, here are the emotions. Watching the celebration is real.

Mari: I had goosebumps when the clock hit zero. I can only imagine what that was like for all types of personnel in the building that night.

Diana: I have chills just watching them bring out the Cup. There is no trophy like it in sports. Absolutely no better trophy presentation.

Mari: Agreed. It’s not “a” Cup. It’s “the” Cup. It completely changes the meaning that goes into it.

Diana: Dave Andreychuk goes to hand off the Cup and his teammates point for him to take a lap. I love that so much.

Mari: I can’t even picture this team without him. Here he was with the opportunity to win the Cup sooner rather than later, yet he goes to Tampa Bay to help lead this team to its first Cup.

Contact Lightning beat reporter Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos. Contact sports trending and outdoors reporter Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

Related: Times columnist John Romano wrote two columns that night, and stuck with the one about Dave Andreychuk's journey

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