Stamkos Stanley Cup Final goal is Sports Illustrateds Play of the Year

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Steven Stamkos has one more award to add to his suddenly overflowing trophy room.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain earned the play of the year honors from Sports Illustrated for his dramatic goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Dallas Stars.

Stamkos is a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner and claimed the Stanley Cup for the first time as a member of the Lightning this year despite missing all but one of Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup Playoff games due to a lower-body injury.

But Stamkos made that one game count by scoring his lone playoff goal, on his only postseason shot, that put the Lightning ahead 2-0 during the first period of their 5-2 win against the Stars om Game 3.

“I’m not a huge believer of those meant-to-be moments, but… that was truly one of those moments for me,” Stamkos said in a taped acceptance speech. “Scoring that goal was just obviously the most memorable goal of my career, but it just meant so much not only for me and my teammates but my friends and family who knew what I was going through at that time.”

Stamkos’ goal defeated Jon Rahm’s long putt in a playoff at the BMW Championship, Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo’s game-saving block of Jayson Tatum in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and Chicago Cubs pitcher Alec Mills’ no-hitter of the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 13.

Stamkos expressed gratitude to the NHL and his fellow players for the successful bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton that enabled the Lightning to win the championship despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It almost still doesn’t feel real especially in a year like this where we didn’t know if we were going to have a chance to compete for a championship,” Stamkos said of winning the Cup at the virtual Sports Illustrated Awards on Saturday.

“The raw of emotion that you feel when you finally accomplish that goal is amazing. To see grown men get teary eyed on the ice after the game is an amazing experience and well worth the sacrifice everyone put in to allow us to play during this season.”

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