The 2015 Stanley Cup Final, commonly known as the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, was the championship series of the National Hockey League (NHL) 2014–15 season, and the culmination of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. This was the 122nd year of the Stanley Cup's presentation. The Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning four games to two to win their sixth championship in franchise history, and their third title in six seasons. The Lightning, as the club with the better regular-season record, held home-ice advantage in the series. The best-of-seven series was played in a 2–2–1–1–1 format, with Tampa Bay hosting games one, two, five and seven; and Chicago hosting games three, four and six. Tyler Johnson and Patrick Kane led the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs in points scored with 23 points each. The series started June 3 and ended on June 15.
This was Tampa Bay's second Finals appearance after winning the Cup in 2004. Since their win in 2004, the Lightning lost in the Conference Finals in 2011 in seven games to the Boston Bruins. The Lightning were eliminated in the first round in 2006, 2007, and 2014.
Tampa Bay compiled 108 points (50 wins, 24 losses and eight overtime losses) during the regular season to finish in second place in the Atlantic Division. Center and team captain Steven Stamkos finished second in goal-scoring during the regular season with 43 goals. Earlier in the season, Head Coach Jon Cooper nicknamed the team's second line of Johnson, Palat and winger Nikita Kucherov as the "Triplets" because they were so in sync; at the mid-season in January, the three players led the League in plus-minus.
In the playoffs, the Lightning eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in seven games, Montreal in six games, and the Rangers in the Conference Finals in seven games. They became the first post-1967 expansion team to beat three Original Six teams on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and the only team in NHL history to face an Original Six team at every stage of the playoffs.
Chicago finished in third place in the Central Division, earning 102 points (48 wins, 28 losses, and 6 overtime losses). Goalie Corey Crawford tied the Canadiens' Carey Price as the William M. Jennings Trophy recipient for allowing a League-low 189 goals during the regular season.
In game one, Tampa Bay struck first with a deflected goal by Alex Killorn at 4:31 in the first period. The Lightning nursed the lead into the third period with a strong conservative defensive effort, but the Blackhawks scored twice in quick succession late in the third period on goals by Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette to win 2–1. By assisting on Vermette's goal, Teravainen became the second-youngest player (at 20 years and 265 days) in NHL history, after Jaromir Jagr in 1991, to have a multi-point game in the Stanley Cup final.
Jason Garrison's power play goal at 8:49 of the third period proved to be the difference in Tampa Bay's victory in game two. Lightning starting goaltender Ben Bishop had left the game moments earlier for undisclosed reasons and was replaced with Andrei Vasilevskiy. Because he was on the ice during Garrison's winning goal, Vasilevskiy was credited with his first playoff victory, and became the first goalie to win a Finals game in relief since Lester Patrick helped the New York Rangers defeat the Montreal Maroons in overtime of game two of the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals, 2–1.
The series switched to Chicago for game three. There was some debate who would start for Tampa Bay, but regular starter Ben Bishop started the game for Tampa Bay. For the third time in a row, Tampa Bay struck first, on Ryan Callahan's slapshot goal at 5:09 of the first. Brad Richards tied it up on a power-play goal and the teams were tied after the first period. The first period was dominated by Chicago, who outshot Tampa Bay 19–7. The second period was dominated by Tampa Bay, which outshot Chicago 17–7, but there was no scoring. In the third period, Brandon Saad gave Chicago its first lead at 4:14, but Tampa Bay countered on the next shift on a goal by Ondrej Palat to tie the score once again. Late in the third period, Victor Hedman led a rush down ice for Tampa Bay and passed to Cedric Paquette who scored to put the Lightning ahead again. The Lightning were able to defend their lead to win the game 3–2 and take a series lead two games to one.
The Lightning chose to rest injured goaltender Ben Bishop for game four in favor of rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning protected Vasilevskiy with tight defensive play, allowing only two shots by the Blackhawks in the first period, which was scoreless. For the first time in the series, the Blackhawks scored the first goal, on a goal by Jonathan Toews at 6:40 of the second. Alex Killorn tied it for the Lightning at 11:47 and the game was tied 1–1 after two periods. In the third, the Blackhawks' Brandon Saad muscled his way to the goal and scored on a backhand past Vasilevskiy at 6:22 to put the Blackhawks ahead. The game's pace picked up as the Lightning tried to tie the score but the Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made several outstanding saves to shut out Tampa Bay the rest of the way. The win tied the series at two games apiece. It was the first time since 1968 that the first four Stanley Cup Final games were all decided by one goal.
The series returned to Tampa for game five and Ben Bishop returned to the net for the Lightning. The Blackhawks scored first for the second consecutive game, this time on a miscue by Bishop and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. The two collided and Patrick Sharp skated to the empty net with the puck at 6:11 of the first, a lead they held until 10:53 of the second when Valtteri Filppula scored to tie the score 1–1. The teams were tied going into the third, but Antoine Vermette scored for the Blackhawks at 2:00 of third and the lead held up as the Blackhawks played tight defence the rest of the way. The Blackhawks took the lead in the series three games to two, to give themselves a chance to win the Cup at home, something the franchise has not done since 1938. For the second time in Finals history and the first since 1951, all games of the series through game five have been decided by one goal, with neither team leading by more than one goal.
In game six, the teams were tied 0–0 after the first period. In the first period, Steven Stamkos put a shot off the crossbar and was stopped on a breakaway early in the second by Corey Crawford but it was the Blackhawks who scored first on a goal by Duncan Keith on a rebound of his own shot near the end of the second period to put Chicago ahead 1–0 after two periods. In the third period, the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane scored on a pass from Brad Richards to put the 'Hawks ahead 2–0, the first two-goal lead of the series. The Blackhawks then frustrated the Lightning the rest of the way to win the game 2–0, a shutout for Crawford and the Stanley Cup championship. It was revealed after the game that the Lightning's goaltender Ben Bishop had played with a torn groin muscle since game two and Tyler Johnson was playing with a fractured wrist, injured in game one. This was also the first time since 1938 that the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on home ice.
For the third time in six seasons, it's One Goal achieved! The Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup! The Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup! The Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup! The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup! Lord Stanley, the Blackhawks organization along with the greatest fans in all of hockey welcome you back to your new home, Chicago, Illinois, in the U.S. of A!
Paul Goodman (Strength & Conditioning Coach), Kevin Delaney (Skating and Skills Development), Pierre Gauthier (Director of Player Personnel)
Barry Smith (Director of Player Development), Mark Kelly (Sr. Director of Amateur Scouting), Mike Gapski (Athletic Trainer), Troy Parchman (Equipment Manager)
Ryan Stewart (Director of Pro Scouting), Matts Halan (Director of European Scouting), Jeff Thomas (Asst. Athletic Trainer), Pawel Prylinski (Massage Therapist)
Jim Heintzleman (Asst. Equipment Manager), D.J. Kogut (Equipment Asst.), Jeff Uyenko (Equipment Asst.), Dr. Michael Terry (Head Team Physician)
Antti Raanta dressed in 54 regular season games, 13 more than the 41-game automatic inclusion limit. He played 14 games for Chicago. Raanta was sent to minors on Feb 22, 2015 when Scott Darling was recalled. Raanta rejoined Chicago on Apr 12, but did not dress in the playoffs.
Daniel Carcillo did not dress in any Stanley Cup playoff games, and dressed in only 39 regular season games, two shy of the 41-game automatic inclusion limit. Carcillo missed 12 regular season games, and all the playoff due to several injuries.
Joakim Nordstrom dressed in three Stanley Cup playoff games, but none in the Finals, and only dressed in 38 regular season games, three shy of the 41-game automatic inclusion limit. Nordstrom also played 23 games in the minors, before joining Chicago full-time on Feb 22, 2015.
In the U.S., the Finals were split between NBC and NBCSN, called by NBC Sports' lead commentary team of Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire; it was originally announced that games two and three were to be broadcast by NBCSN, with the remainder on NBC. Game two was moved to NBC to serve as a lead-out for its coverage of the 2015 Belmont Stakes (itself marking the first time since 2002 that NBC had aired sports programming as a lead-out for a Triple Crown race) in favor of game four on NBCSN. As Olczyk was also a contributor to NBC's Belmont coverage, he was absent during game two.
This was the second-most watched Stanley Cup Finals on U.S. television since 1995, trailing only the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, with an average 3.2 Nielsen rating and 5.6 million viewers on NBC and NBCSN. Game six was seen by 7.6 million viewers nationally on NBC. Ratings for game six were especially strong in Chicago and Tampa Bay: it was the most-watched NHL broadcast locally in Chicago history, and the second-highest in Tampa Bay. By contrast, ratings in Canada dropped significantly, making it the lowest-rated Stanley Cup Final since 2009. Game six, facing competition from a Team Canada match in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, and the Toronto Blue Jays (which had seen increased ratings due to a major winning streak), was the lowest-rated deciding NHL playoff game on Canadian television since the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.