Three straight Stanley Cup Final appearances in the salary cap era. It's simply an astonishing feat.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have made astonishing feats their thing over the past three years, however, with the back-to-back champions defeating the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1 to officially book their shot at a third.
And it's hard to argue that they aren't worthy of it, either.
The Lightning rendered the Rangers almost entirely useless at even-strength on Saturday night with some relentless defensive coverage, while also holding them to just 21 shots on goal in all situations.
With their season on the line, that's a pitiful offensive showing from a Rangers team that otherwise boasts some truly heavy weaponry in its forward corps, as the likes of Artemiy Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider were each held in check all night long.
One player who decidedly was not held in check, on the other hand, was Steven Stamkos, who scored both Lightning goals, including a statement tally just 23 seconds after Frank Vatrano potted one for the Rangers to pull the game even at 1-1 in the third period to give Tampa a lead they would never relinquish.
In goal, Igor Shesterkin did everything he could to give the Rangers a chance to succeed, turning aside 29 of the 31 shots the Lightning pelted him with, including a number of highlight-reel stops that, were it not for him, would've broken this game wide open. On the other side of the ice, Andrei Vasilevskiy was as solid as his team needed to be, allowing just one goal on 21 shots to string together four straight stellar performances after a rocky start to the series.
With the final two teams now set in stone, this is the Stanley Cup Final hockey fans have been waiting for. In one corner you have a Colorado Avalanche squad cloaked in expectations and hungry to begin a dynasty of their own, while in the other you have the NHL's current dynasty looking to put the finishing touches on one of the most incredible multi-year runs the league has ever seen.
Either way, this series will be electric. You do not want to miss it.