2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs

2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the National Hockey League began on April 7, 2004, following the 2003–04 regular season. The playoffs ended with the Tampa Bay Lightning securing the Stanley Cup with a seven-game series win over the Calgary Flames on June 7. It was Tampa Bay's first Stanley Cup victory. It was the Flames' third final appearance, as they came this far in 1986 and 1989, winning the latter. The sixteen qualified teams, eight from each conference, played best-of-seven games for conference quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The winner of each conference proceeded to the Stanley Cup Finals. The format was identical to the one introduced for the 1999 playoffs.

These playoffs marked the first time the Nashville Predators qualified, being in their seventh season in the NHL. The future champions from Tampa Bay saw playoff action for the third time, while the Colorado Avalanche made their ninth straight post-season appearance.

Playoff seeds

Eastern Conference

#Tampa Bay Lightning - Southeast Division and Eastern Conference regular season champions, 106 points
#Boston Bruins - Northeast Division champions, 104 points
#Philadelphia Flyers - Atlantic Division champions, 101 points
#Toronto Maple Leafs - 103 points
#Ottawa Senators - 102 points
#New Jersey Devils - 100 points
#Montreal Canadiens - 93 points
#New York Islanders - 91 points

Western Conference

#Detroit Red Wings - Central Division and Western Conference regular season champions; Presidents' Trophy winners, 109 points
#San Jose Sharks - Pacific Division champions, 104 points
#Vancouver Canucks - Northwest Division champions, 101 points
#Colorado Avalanche - 100 points
#Dallas Stars - 97 points
#Calgary Flames - 94 points
#St. Louis Blues - 91 points (39 wins)
#Nashville Predators - 91 points (38 wins)

Playoff Bracket

RD1=Conference Quarterfinals
RD2=Conference Semifinals
RD3=Conference Finals
RD4=Stanley Cup Finals
group1=Eastern Conference
group2=Western Conference
RD1-team01=Tampa Bay
RD1-team02=NY Islanders
RD1-team06=New Jersey
RD1-team11=San Jose
RD1-team12=St. Louis
RD2-team01=Tampa Bay
RD2-team07=San Jose
RD3-team01=Tampa Bay
RD3-team04=San Jose
RD4-team01=Tampa Bay

tatistical leaders


"GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; +/– = Plus/Minus; PIM = Penalty Minutes"

(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Montreal Canadiens

In 2002, the top seeded Bruins were upset by the lower seeded Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. It was a humiliating defeat. This series featured the same result, as the Bruins were once again upset by the lower seeded Canadiens.

The Bruins recent history was marked by playoff collapses. They beat the Hurricanes in 1999, but since then had not won a playoff series. To change their luck, Mike Sullivan was hired to be the coach, and he led his team to a division title. They had relied on the stellar play of goaltender Andrew Raycroft all season. For the Canadiens, the playoffs were long overdue. They had only made the playoffs 3 times in last 7 seasons. The two teams had the same amount of wins (41) during the season, and Habs coach Claude Julien told his team to remember that his team was not very different from the Bruins.

Games 1 and 2 at FleetCenter in Boston saw the Bruins win two low-scoring games, winning Game 1, 3–0, behind a 31-save shutout from goalie Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft was almost as good in Game 2, allowing one goal, but Boston won the game anyway, 2–1.

Down 2–0 in the series, but home at the Bell Centre, Montreal won Game 3, 3–2. But, the Canadiens were pushed to the brink with a painful double-overtime 4–3 loss in Game 4. Montreal was in trouble. If they were to advance, they had to win the next three games before losing one, and two of the three games were in Boston.

The Canadiens bounced back from the double-overtime loss with a 5–1 Game 5 victory, scoring three third-period goals to break open a close game. Energized by home-ice advantage and their temporary staving off of elimination, Montreal forced a Game 7 with a 5–2 Game 6 victory. Montreal completed the stunning comeback with a 2–0 victory in Game 7 in Boston, as goalie Jose Theodore went a perfect 32-for-32 in save attempts.

"We had a lead in this series and left it to chance in Game Seven, and that's what happened," rookie goaltender Andrew Raycroft said. "We had just has much a chance as they did. It's just disappointing."

"I thought we played extremely hard tonight and played a great hockey game," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan added. "We certainly had our chances to score goals and I thought we deserved a better fate, but that's the nature of sports."

For the Bruins, it meant another playoff disappointment. They would miss the playoffs in 2006. As for the Canadiens, they would move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, where they were swept in 4 games.

Western Conference Quarterfinals

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Nashville Predators

At Detroit's Joe Louis Arena for Game 1, the Red Wings shook off a slow start and got goals from Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom and Robert Lang and posted a 3–1 victory. Game 2 saw a closer game, but Detroit still won the game, 2–1 on Mathieu Schneider's game winning goal.

However, at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center for Games 3 and 4, Nashville made it a series by taking both games, tying the series 2–2 headed back to Detroit. After a 3–1 Game 3 victory, Nashville one-upped themselves with a 3–0 Game 4 victory as goalie Tomas Vokoun posted a 37-save shutout. Game 4 also saw Detroit goalie Manny Legace being yanked in favor of Curtis Joseph.

Back in Detroit for Game 5, Joseph got the start in goal for the Red Wings, and the decision paid off: the Red Wings dominated the Predators, winning 4–1. When the series returned to Nashville for Game 6, Joseph shut out the Predators to end their season in a 2–0 victory. It was a relatively easy victory for Joseph, as the Red Wings defense allowed only 15 Predator shots on goal.

(4) Colorado Avalanche vs. (5) Dallas Stars

Game 1 at the Pepsi Center in Denver saw the Avalanche win, 3–1. Game 2 saw Colorado increase the offensive pressure on Dallas goalie Marty Turco in a 5–2 Avalanche win.

At home at the American Airlines Center and in danger of falling behind 3–0 in the series, Dallas bounced back with a crucial victory in overtime, 4–3, to climb back into the series. After the first 80 minutes of Game 4 failed to produce a winner, Dallas stood a chance at winning the game, tying the series, and guaranteeing at least one more game at home. But Marek Svatos won the game for the Avalanche 5:18 into the second overtime to break Dallas' back.

Back in Colorado for Game 5, Dallas kept it close until the third period, when Colorado broke the game wide open with three goals to extend a 2–1 lead to 5–1 to clinch the series.

Western Conference Semifinals

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Calgary Flames

This series pitted the top-seeded Red Wings, who were heavily favored, against the Flames, who had knocked out their intracountry rival, Vancouver, in an emotional seven-game series.

Game 1, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, saw the Flames stay with the Red Wings for every step of the way, and then in overtime, Marcus Nilson scored the game-winning goal 2:39 in. Stunned by the Game 1 loss, the Red Wings, hoping to avoid going down 2–0 in the series going to Calgary, bounced back with a 5–2 Game 2 victory.

At the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary for Game 3, Calgary used three second-period goals to register a 3–2 victory and take a 2–1 lead in the series. But Detroit again showed the ability to bounce back after a close loss, taking Game 4, 4–2.

The series shifted back to Detroit for Game 5, when Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff picked an opportune time to shut out an opponent: his 31-save shutout in a 1–0 victory pushed Detroit to the brink, with Game 6 in Calgary. Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph also played well, but the difference in the game was a goal by Craig Conroy. During the second period, a shot by Red Wings defensman Mathieu Schneider deflected off a stick and struck Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman in the left eye. Joe Louis Arena fell silent while Yzerman was attended to for several minutes and then helped off the ice, holding a towel to his face. Yzerman would not return to the series.

At the Saddledome for Game 6, Kiprusoff again refused to budge, allowing nothing in regulation, but so did Joseph. It was now sudden-death for Detroit, and with 47 seconds left in the first overtime, Martin Gelinas beat Joseph set up by assists from Conroy and Jarome Iginla, and Calgary won their second straight 1–0 game, and their second straight overtime victory to clinch a series. Kiprusoff's 38-save shutout in Game 6 meant that he had stopped the final 69 shots he saw in the series.

Western Conference Finals

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (6) Calgary Flames

The Western Conference Finals pitted the second-seeded Sharks against the sixth-seeded Flames, who had upset both Vancouver and Detroit en route to this series against San Jose.

Game 1, at San Jose's HP Pavilion, saw the Flames win the game 18:43 into overtime, 4–3, on a Steve Montador goal, his first of the postseason. In Game 2, Calgary came charging out of the gate, scoring two first-period goals and never looking back in a 4–1 victory. The Sharks were in trouble: they were down in the series, 2–0, headed to Calgary.

Game 3, at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, saw San Jose come through when they needed to: goalie Evgeni Nabokov posted a 34-save shutout and Alex Korolyuk scored two goals in a 3–0 Sharks win. Game 4 saw the unusual trend of the away team playing well in the series, as San Jose tied the series, 2–2, with a 4–2 victory. San Jose's attack came quick and hard with four second-period goals. After San Jose's fourth goal, Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was pulled in favor of Roman Turek, who went 3-for-3 between the pipes.

The series went to San Jose for Game 5, and the road team continued to play well, with Kiprusoff bouncing back from his Game 4 shelling, getting help from his defense as well, as he stopped all 19 shots he faced in a 3–0 Flames win that pushed San Jose to the brink. The series returned to Calgary for Game 6, and for the first time all series, the home team won, a 3–1 Calgary victory that propelled the underdog Flames into the Stanley Cup Finals.

tanley Cup Finals

(E1) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (W6) Calgary Flames

The 2004 Stanley Cup Finals pitted the team with the second-most points, the Tampa Bay Lightning, against a team that barely made the playoffs, three points from the bottom of the playoff qualifiers, the Calgary Flames.

Tampa Bay had cruised through the first two rounds against the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens before running into stiff competition from the Philadelphia Flyers, who they nevertheless defeated in seven games. Calgary had beaten the Western Conference's top three seeded teams, the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, and the San Jose Sharks, in that order.

Game 1, 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 11th 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 2 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.

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, and Calgary was halfway home. 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 Richards three minutes into the game.

The series returned to Tampa Bay tied, 2–2, for a critical Game 5, and Calgary pulled off a 3–2 overtime victory to move within one win away 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 6, each team scored two second-period goals, with Richards scoring two for the Lightning and Chris Clark and Marcus Nilson for the Flames, respectively. In the third period, there was a dispute over a Martin Gelinas shot that appeared to have gone in. A review from one unorthodox camera angle showed the puck would appear to have crossed the goal line before Khabibulin's pad dragged it out, though another camera did show the puck had been knocked several inches "above" the goal line in front of Khabibulin's pad. Although it never was reviewed, it was officially inconclusive. The game entered overtime with the Flames needing only a single goal to win the Stanley Cup. Thirty-three seconds into double overtime, St. Louis put in the game-winner for the Lightning to force a winner-take-all Game 7 in Tampa Bay.

In a tense Game 7, 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. Tampa Bay won the game, 2–1, and the Stanley Cup.

ee also

*2003–04 NHL season
*List of NHL seasons

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