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Courtesy: NBC Sports

The NHL returned to play on Aug. 1 with 24 teams. Seven weeks later, only two remain.

  • Three days after the Stars punched their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, the Lightning did the same with a 2-1 (OT) win over the Islanders.
  • Tampa Bay is seeking its first Stanley Cup since 2004, while Dallas is seeking its first since 1999.

The favorite: The Lightning (-180) fell in the first round last year after a record-tying 62-win season. They were one of the NHL's best teams again this season, led by a high-powered offense and the world's best goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The underdog: The Stars (+160) were far from a great team this season, scoring fewer goals per game than all but five other teams. Bookmakers didn't give Dallas much of a chance to win the Cup, yet here they are.

By the numbers: The Stars have conceded more goals than they've scored this postseason, something no Stanley Cup winner has done since the 2004-05 lockout. Meanwhile, the Lightning โ€” who have led the NHL in goals scored for three straight seasons โ€” have continued racking up goals in the playoffs.

  • Goals per game: Stars: 2.95 | Lightning: 3.17
  • Goals against: Stars: 3.05 | Lightning: 2.28

Schedule: The NHL staged both conference finals series in the Edmonton bubble, and that will continue through the Stanley Cup Final.

  • Game 1: Tomorrow night (7:30pm ET, NBC)
  • Game 2: Sept. 21
  • Game 3: Sept. 23
  • Game 4: Sept. 25
  • Game 5: Sept. 26
  • Game 6: Sept. 28
  • Game 7: Sept. 30

Wild stat ... In the last 12 years, the only team to win both the Presidents' Trophy (best regular-season record) and Stanley Cup in the same season is the 2012-13 Blackhawks. And since the advent of the Presidents' Trophy in 1985, only eight teams have done it.

  • In other words, the NHL's best regular-season team has won a championship just 23.5% of the time (8-for-34) since "Gremlins" was released in theaters.
  • That streak will stay alive, as the Presidents' Trophy-winning Bruins lost to the Lightning in the second round. Tampa Bay finished the year with the league's second-best record, while the Stars ranked 10th.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author ofย Login
Dec 22, 2020 - Technology

Video games offered a lifeline in 2020

Illustration: Aรฏda Amer/Axios

Video games have long provided players with a chance to escape reality, but in 2020, they took on much larger roles, serving as exercise companions and social gathering places โ€” filling urgent needs in this coronavirus-altered year.

Why it matters: 2020's transformations will likely outlast the pandemic. While some people who boosted their video game use this year will scale back, others will keep gaming in a central place in their lives.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information โ€” Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy โ€” Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine โ€” CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. ๐ŸŽง Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.