The winner of the Eastern Conference final between the Lightning and New York Islanders will meet the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup final, possibly as early as Thursday.The Stars are waiting for the series to finish after clinching the Western Conference final with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights Monday in Game 5.Dallas advanced to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 2000, when it lost to the New Jersey Devils.The Stars are coached by former Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, who oversaw the team’s defense and penalty killing from 2013-18. Bowness was dismissed in May 2018 , one week after Tampa Bay was eliminated by Washington in the Eastern Conference final. Then-general manager Steve Yzerman said the day after the loss that Tampa Bay’s defense was not “quite good enough.”The fourth-seeded Stars were up to the task, beating favored Golden Knights thanks to contributions from offseason additions Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry, who signed as free agents in July.“They added some pieces this offseason,” Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow said Tuesday morning. “They look good, obviously. They’re in the Stanley Cup final for a reason. They defend hard, they find ways to win, so it’s not a fluke why they made it to the finals.”Dallas didn’t meet their first challenge in top-seeded Vegas. It had to get past No. 8 Calgary (four games to two) and No. 2 Colorado (4-3) to advance to the conference final.The Stars beat the Lightning in their only two regular-season meetings. Dallas won 4-3 in overtime in mid-December and 3-2 in overtime in late January.In the first meeting, the Lightning had a two-goal lead before the Stars came back to tie the game in the third period and send it into overtime. Dallas won the second game thanks to two Jamie Benn goals off Lightning turnovers. Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow @faiello_mari .