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Stanley Cup Finals Game 6: Simplicity Should Seal the Deal for the Lightning

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Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevskiy celebrate a goal against the Arizona Coyotes at Amalie Arena Thursday, January 9, 2019. Photo: NHL.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Finals left Lightning fans fearful to what the series could look like. Dallas came off four rest days and hit the ice with speed, control, and physicality, winning 4-1. In Game 2 Tampa’s familiar hustle and resilience worked in their favor. The Lightning stormed the first period with three goals a couple minutes apart from one another: first Point, next Palat, lastly Shattenkirk.

Tampa’s defensive pairings have been playing outstanding and continued to do so. It all came down to Vasilevskiy, who only allowed one goal in the second and third period, helping the Bolts tie up the series 1-1 in a 3-2 win.

Game 3 was pure magic. Steven Stamkos suited up for the first time since Feb 25th, unleashing an emotional and electric energy throughout the team. More importantly, leave it to the Capitan to not just make an appearance, but an impact within his 2:47 of playing time. 6:58 into the first period, off a pass from Hedman, Stamkos gained control of the puck along the boards and takes a sharp angled shot to the far side on the net for a Tampa Bay goal. The response and support from the bench was moving! The Bolts built off of the play and presence of their Captain in the second period, scoring three more goals between Hedman, Point, and Palat.

Three players who have been leading contributors in Tampa’s playoff run. The Lightning closed out Game 3 with a 5-2 victory. Although everyone was hopeful for more Stamkos play, a Game 4 Stammer was ruled out. You could almost say the guys pulled off this overtime win to honor their Captain. Kevin Shattenkirk, with the winning overtime goal, gave Stamkos a big hug once they exited the ice.

For the first time since 2014 in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Stars and Lightning would face off in back to back games. Game 5, which took place Saturday, was a hard-fought game. Stars’ key player, Corey Perry got Dallas up 1 with less than 3 minutes left in the 1st period. Tampa has had a short response time most of playoffs when it comes to catching up on the board. 4:37 into the 2nd period, Ondrej Palat records his 11th goal of playoffs. The score remained tied until 3:38 into the third, when Sergachev gave Tampa Bay the lead, 2-1. As the game began to wind down and hopes of winning the cup in just under eight minutes, Dallas’ other driving force of the series, Joe Pavelski ties the game back up, meaning more overtime for the Lightning. OT one goes scoreless regardless of the offensive pressure laid on the Stars, and in OT two the Stars forced a Game 6 after Perry gets one past Vasilevskiy.

A tough loss, yes. At the end of the day it is the Stanley Cup Finals and teams find that extra gear right before its time to head home. Tampa has mentioned that their focus after games is to remain even keeled and turning the page to the next game. After the Game 5 loss, Victor Hedman said, “we’re a resilient group and we know how to respond to adversity” something the Bolts have proven time and time again.

According to Coach Cooper in his post-game presser, they played a winnable game, but they’ve been in this position before and rebounded. Cooper said, “I really like how we’ve responded after losses.” As for how this team keeps grinding through and staying unified, “There’s a focus with this group and a collective leadership with Stammer not in the lineup that has been exceptional” and quite obvious, every player on the roster has been ready to step up at any point of these series and made an impact in one way or another, no matter how big or small. After each loss, we have seen the Lightning follow up with a win and the same will be expected tonight as they stick to their game plan and style to close out the series.

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Kasey Hudson is Associate Sports Editor for Florida National News. | sports@floridanationalnews.com

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2024 Daytona 500 Winner William Byron

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DAYTONA, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – William Byron and crew spray champagne in Victory Lane after winning 2024 Daytona 500 in Florida.

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William Byron wins DAYTONA 500 under caution after frenetic next-to-last lap

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2024 Daytona 500 Winner William Byron held a press conference in the media center at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, February 19, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — William Byron gave team owner Rick Hendrick something extra to celebrate in the 40th anniversary year of Hendrick Motorsports.

2024 Daytona 500 Winner William Byron celebrates his victory at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, February 19, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

In a frantic scramble after a restart on Lap 197 of 200 in the DAYTONA 500, Byron reached the finish line and took the white flag moments before NASCAR called the fifth caution of the evening as Ross Chastain slid wildly through the infield grass off the bumper of Austin Cindric’s Ford.

 

Alex Bowman was a close second to his teammate at the moment of caution, giving Hendrick a 1-2 finish and the organization’s first victory in the Great American Race since Jimmie Johnson beat teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the stripe in 2013.

NASCAR young rising star William Byron burned some rubber to celebrate his Daytona 500 win at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, February 19, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

The victory was Hendrick’s ninth in the DAYTONA 500, tying the company with Petty Enterprises for most in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series most prestigious event. The race was postponed from Sunday to Monday because of heavy rains during the weekend.

 

“I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500,” said the 26-year-old Byron, who picked up the 11th victory of his career and his second at Daytona, the first coming in the 2020 summer race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

 

“I can’t believe it. I wish my dad was here. He’s sick, but this is for him, man. We’ve been through so much, and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched the race (when Byron was younger). This is so freaking cool.”

AXALTA driver William Byron and Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher lifts the Daytona 500 trophy at victory lane, Monday, February 19, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

Hendrick could barely contain his elation in Victory Lane.

 

“I’m telling you, you couldn’t write the script any better,” he said. “When we thought about coming down here the first time, we didn’t think we should be here, felt so out of place.

 

“We win this on our 40th to the day, it’s just… and tied a record now, so that’s awesome.”

 

Before the final restart, Chastain was racing at the front of the field on Lap 192 when a bump from Alex Bowman got Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron out of shape and knocked Byron into the right rear of Brad Keselowski’s Ford.

 

Keselowski turned up the track into the Ford of Joey Logano, who had led a race-high 45 laps to that point. Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney’s Ford was among the 23 cars involved in the accident that left string of mangled vehicles strewn along the backstretch.

 

The wreck knocked Blaney, Keselowski and Logano out of the race, along with Tyler Reddick, defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez and Todd Gilliland. NASCAR red-flagged the race for 15 minutes 27 seconds for track clean-up.

 

“Speedway racing again,” Logano said ruefully. “It’s a lot of fun until this happens. It was pretty interesting with a lot of pushing and shoving there at the end. Our car was able to take it. Our Mustang was so fast. It could lead a line really well. I kind of thought I had the cars I wanted around me. I had at least one I wanted around me, but just couldn’t make it work.”

2024 Daytona 500 champion William Byron explain what lead to the crash during a press conference at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, February 19, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

 

“Obviously, hate what happened on that backstretch,” Byron said of the accident. “I just got pushed and got sideways. But so proud of this team, whole AXALTA team, 40th anniversary to the day, on Monday.

 

“Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities, and we just want to keep it going. We have a lot to prove this year, and this is a good start, obviously.”

 

How much Byron has yet to prove is debatable. He won a series-best six races last year, qualified for the Championship 4 and finished third in the final standings.

 

The race was not quite five laps old when an eight-car accident off Turn 4 started the inevitable attrition. Contact from Keselowski’s Ford in a tightly bunched line of the outside knocked the Toyota of John Hunter Nemechek into the center lane and into the side of Harrison Burton’s Ford.

 

Burton slid toward the infield, collecting the Chevrolet of Sunoco rookie Carson Hocevar. Burton’s No. 21 Mustang shot up the track and slammed into the Ford of Kaz Grala and the Chevrolet of Austin Dillon. Behind Dillon, Hocevar careened into the path of seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, who couldn’t avoid the collision.

 

The wreck eliminated the cars of Burton, Hocevar and Grala. Dillon took his No. 3 Chevy to the garage for extensive repairs, and Johnson lost two laps on pit road as his Legacy Motor Club crew worked frantically to repair his Camry.

 

“I don’t remember exactly who it was on my outside,” Burton said after a trip to the infield care center. “It just looked like they either got a bad push or got loose and just hit me in the right side and sent me across.

 

“The grass was so wet that once I got in the grass, I thought I’d be OK, but the car just kept going and going… so really sad that our day is over as quick as it was. We had a really fast Ford. It’s just a bummer. There’s nothing we can do but just move on and try to win next week.”

 

It took 187 more laps of racing before the colossal wreck that dwarfed the earlier incident thinned the field and set up the fight to the finish among the cars that survived.

 

In a race that featured 41 lead changes among 20 drivers, Christopher Bell ran third, followed by Corey LaJoie, Bubba Wallace and AJ Allmendinger. Chastain, who didn’t have quite enough room when he dived to the inside of Cindric on the penultimate lap, finished 21st, one spot ahead of Cindric.

 

NASCAR Cup Series Race – DAYTONA 500

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, February 18, 2024

 

1. (18) William Byron, Chevrolet, 200.

2. (7) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 200.

3. (4) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 200.

4. (29) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 200.

5. (24) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 200.

6. (28) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 200.

7. (10) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 200.

8. (11) Erik Jones, Toyota, 200.

9. (38) Noah Gragson, Ford, 200.

10. (20) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 200.

11. (17) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.

12. (34) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 200.

13. (14) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 200.

14. (5) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200.

15. (27) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200.

16. (37) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 200.

17. (15) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 200.

18. (19) Chris Buescher, Ford, 200.

19. (8) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.

20. (40) David Ragan, Ford, 200.

21. (21) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 199.

22. (6) Austin Cindric, Ford, 199.

23. (25) Ryan Preece, Ford, 199.

24. (36) Riley Herbst(i), Ford, 199.

25. (30) Josh Berry #, Ford, 199.

26. (22) Justin Haley, Ford, 199.

27. (39) Anthony Alfredo(i), Chevrolet, 198.

28. (23) Jimmie Johnson, Toyota, 196.

29. (3) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, Accident, 192.

30. (32) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 192.

31. (35) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 192.

32. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 191.

33. (16) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 191.

34. (13) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, Accident, 191.

35. (31) Todd Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 191.

36. (2) Michael McDowell, Ford, 176.

37. (33) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 146.

38. (26) Kaz Grala #, Ford, Accident, 5.

39. (12) Harrison Burton, Ford, Accident, 5.

40. (9) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, Accident, 5.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner: 157.178 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 10 Mins, 52 Secs. Margin of Victory: Under Caution Seconds.

Caution Flags: 5 for 20 laps.

Lead Changes: 41 among 20 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J. Logano 1;M. McDowell 2;J. Logano 3;M. McDowell 4;J. Logano 5-8;C. Bell 9-30;R. Blaney 31-39;M. McDowell 40-43;J. Berry # 44;C. Elliott 45-54;B. Wallace 55;N. Gragson 56-60;*. Ragan 61-62;K. Busch 63-64;C. Elliott 65-67;B. Keselowski 68;K. Larson 69-71;J. Logano 72-92;T. Gilliland 93-108;K. Busch 109-113;K. Larson 114-117;A. Cindric 118-122;K. Busch 123;A. Cindric 124-128;K. Busch 129;R. Blaney 130-132;B. Keselowski 133-134;A. Cindric 135-136;B. Wallace 137;A. Cindric 138;B. Wallace 139;A. Allmendinger(i) 140-148;K. Busch 149-150;C. LaJoie 151;D. Hamlin 152;K. Busch 153;D. Hamlin 154-162;J. Logano 163-180;R. Chastain 181-185;D. Suarez 186-187;R. Chastain 188-196;W. Byron 197-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Joey Logano 5 times for 45 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 22 laps; Todd Gilliland 1 time for 16 laps; Ross Chastain 2 times for 14 laps; Austin Cindric 4 times for 13 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 13 laps; Kyle Busch 6 times for 12 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 12 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 10 laps; AJ Allmendinger(i) 1 time for 9 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 7 laps; Michael McDowell 3 times for 6 laps; Noah Gragson 1 time for 5 laps; William Byron 1 time for 4 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 3 laps; Bubba Wallace 3 times for 3 laps; * David Ragan 1 time for 2 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 2 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 1 lap; Josh Berry # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,5,1,48,24,8,11,23,19,99

Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,2,99,8,45,24,23,47,16,17

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