The first game, at St. Pete Times Forum, saw the Flames win the game, 4–1. Calgary only got 19 shots off against the Lightning defense, but more than one-fifth found the net. Martin Gelinas got Calgary on the board early, and they extended the lead to 3–0 in the second period on goals by Jarome Iginla, his eleventh of the postseason, and Stephane Yelle. Chris Simon added the fourth and final Calgary goal after Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis scored the lone Lightning goal.
Game two saw the same final score, but this time, it was Tampa Bay winning a clutch game to tie the series, 1–1, headed to Calgary. Ruslan Fedotenko's 10th goal of the postseason got the Lightning on the board first, and Tampa Bay used three third-period goals, coming from Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, and St. Louis, respectively, to blast the game open. The lone Calgary goal was scored by Ville Nieminen.
These Finals would be the last until 2013 to be tied after two games. The team with home ice in games one and two held a 2-0 edge in every Final between 2006 and 2011. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings won the first two games at New Jersey.
The series shifted to the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, where Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary defense completely stonewalled the Tampa Bay attack, which only took 21 shots in a 3–0 Flames victory. Simon scored the first Calgary goal in the second period, and Shean Donovan and Iginla added goals to ice the game.
With a chance to take a commanding 3–1 series lead, Calgary was shut out by Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who recorded his fifth shutout of the postseason, a 29-save shutout, in a 1–0 Tampa Bay victory, with the game's lone goal being scored by Brad Richards three minutes into the game on a two-man advantage.
With 4:13 left in the game, Ville Nieminen checked Vincent Lecavalier into the boards from behind, drawing a five-minute major penalty for boarding, a game misconduct penalty, and an eventual Game 5 suspension. Meanwhile, fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome angrily booed referees Kerry Fraser and Brad Watson throughout most of the contest. They were originally also scheduled to work Game 6 in Calgary but the league eventually decided to replace them.
The series returned to Tampa Bay tied, 2–2, for a critical game five, and Calgary pulled off a 3–2 overtime victory to move within one win from the Stanley Cup. After Gelinas and St. Louis traded goals in the first period, Iginla scored for Calgary late in the second period. However, Fredrik Modin tied the game for the Lightning 37 seconds into the third period. The 2–2 score held until after 14:40 had gone by in overtime, when Oleg Saprykin's first goal since the first round won the game for the Flames.
Back to Calgary for game six, each team scored two second-period goals, with Richards scoring two for the Lightning and Chris Clark and Marcus Nilson for the Flames. In the third period, there was a dispute over a Martin Gelinas redirect that appeared to have gone in off of his skate. A review from one camera angle appeared to show the puck crossing the goal line before Khabibulin's pad dragged it out, though some (including Lightning assistant captain Tim Taylor) argue that the puck had not only been knocked several inches above the goal line (thus making there appear to be white ice between the puck and the goal line) in front of Khabibulin's pad, but that it was also "kicked" by Gelinas. The play was never reviewed. It was however later shown in game seven by ABC television that the NHL made the correct call via a CGI video analysis of the goal in question that proved that the puck never crossed the goal line completely. The CGI company who did the analysis of the video was based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The game entered overtime with the Flames needing only a single goal to win the Stanley Cup. However, thirty-three seconds into the second overtime, St. Louis put in the game-winner for the Lightning to force a winner-take-all seventh game in Tampa Bay.
In a tense game seven, Fedotenko scored goals for Tampa Bay late in the first period and late in the second period for a 2–0 lead. After Conroy scored to narrow the deficit to 2–1, Calgary barraged Khabibulin after taking only seven shots in the first two periods. After the Conroy goal, Khabibulin stopped 16 Calgary shots. The series ended as Flames center Marcus Nilson missed a last-second opportunity to force overtime. Tampa Bay won the game, 2–1, and the Stanley Cup.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently the southern-most hockey team to ever win the Stanley Cup in history. Game seven was the last NHL game played for almost a year and a half, due to the lockout.
Tampa Bay returned to the Cup at the end of the 2014-15 season, defeating a couple of heroes from the 2004 team, Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle, in a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals with the New York Rangers in the process. Calgary has yet to return to the Finals, suffering four consecutive first round exits until beginning a five-year streak of no postseason play after the 2009-10 season. The Flames returned to the playoffs in the 2014-15 season, winning their first series in over a decade, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Three Canadian teams (the Oilers in 2006, the Senators in 2007 and the Canucks in 2011) have made the Finals since Calgary's appearance, each losing to their respective American opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks and the Boston Bruins, respectively.
Darren Rumble played only five regular season games, and did not play in the playoffs. Rumble was a healthy reserve the rest of the season.
Eric Perrin played in four regular season games and twelve playoff games (four in the conference in finals).
Stanislav Neckar played two games in the conference finals. Stan Neckar was on the Nashville Predators injury reserve list majority of the season, before joining Tampa Bay in a trade on March 9, 2004.
Tampa Bay was given permission to include these players on the Stanley Cup even though they did not qualify. Rumble for spending the whole season with Tampa Bay, and Perrin and Neckar for playing in the conference finals.
In the United States, this was the last Stanley Cup Final to air on the ABC/ESPN family of networks, as the 2004-05 NHL lockout suspended play for the next season. NBC and Versus (formerly OLN) would pick up the NHL for the 2005–06 season. The latter was renamed the NBC Sports Network on January 2, 2012, effectively moving to the NHL on NBC banner.
In Canada, the CBC's broadcast of game seven of the Finals drew 4.862 million viewers, making it the highest-rated NHL game on the CBC since game seven of the 1994 Final, which drew 4.957 million viewers. However, those numbers include both pre-game and post-game coverage. The game itself drew 5.560 million viewers, up from 5.404 in 1994.
^"Flames reach Stanley Cup finals". CBC Sports. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. May 20, 2004. Retrieved February 3, 2012. Calgary is the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup finals since the 1994 Vancouver Canucks...lost...to the New York Rangers.