TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Lightning fell just two wins short of hoisting their third-straight Stanley Cup. Ultimately losing to the Colorado Avalanche in six games, the Bolts are headed to the offseason on a loss for the first time since 2019.

“When you don’t accomplish your goal it’s tough,” said Lightning forward and captain, Steven Stamkos. “You realize some of the sacrifices the guys made physically were unbelievable. Of the three runs, this is the one we didn’t win, but we might be the most proud of in terms of how hard it was to get here, because of what—including what has gone on in the last two years — that accumulation, the expectation and the sacrifice. All those things that it took to get here, you’re just extremely proud of what guys did. Guys played through so much. That’s just the expectation of this group and that’s pretty special when guys are willing to do whatever it takes to win. It’s a special group.”

“Obviously not an easy thing,” said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. “But at the end of the day I’m so proud of this team—what we’ve accomplished, what guys have fought through to get us to this point. Playing four teams that won over 50 games in the regular season. Pretty sure that’s a first in this league. The ups and downs that it’s been, you know being down the first series and then obviously being down 2-0 against the Rangers, just battled back. Guys battled-through injuries and stuff like that. I’m so proud of every single guy in that room.” 

In regard to the injuries Hedman and Stamkos spoke of, Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois went through the main injuries of their players in the team’s exit interviews with the media Tuesday. 

“This isn’t an excuse,” BriseBois said. “I’m sure Colorado’s got a long list of banged-up guys too… You get to the Stanley Cup Final, you’re going to be banged-up. But I do want to acknowledge the sacrifices our players made and what they went through to get us to the Stanley Cup Final and give us a chance to bring home that third-straight Cup. 

“Going into the playoffs, (Pierre-Edouard) Bellemare already had a meniscus injury. That’s going to get cleaned-up arthroscopically in the coming days. Anthony Cirelli suffered a shoulder AC joint sprain in the New York series and then the other shoulder was dislocated in the Colorado series. He’s being evaluated (Tuesday) by a specialist so we’ll know more in the coming days if that will require surgery or not. Brandon Hagel had a foot fracture in the Florida series. Nikita Kucherov had an MCL sprain in the Colorado series. Nick Paul had a shoulder AC joint sprain in the New York series and an MCL sprain in the Colorado series. Corey Perry had a shoulder AC joint sprain in the New York series. Brayden Point had a significant tear in his quad in game seven of the Toronto series. He’s expected to make a full recovery. All of these guys are. In the case of point, it’s probably a few more weeks before he’s fully recovered. And Ryan McDonagh played with a mangled finger from blocking a shot in the New York series.”

While the three-peat bid was just out of reach, the Lightning did make it to three-straight Stanley Cup Finals, as one of just eight NHL franchises that have appeared in three or more in a row. Per the NHL’s website, the record for most consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances is 10, set by the Montreal Canadiens starting in 1950. 

On Thursday, just four days after the 2021-2022 season came to a close, the Lightning announced their preseason schedule for the 2022-2023 season. Tampa Bay has six preseason contests, starting on Tuesday, September 27. That means the Bolts will have a little more than two months—63 days—to rest and recover before getting back to work, in hopes of making it to four-straight Stanley Cup Finals. 

Lightning 2022-2023 Preseason Schedule 

Tuesday, September 27 at Hurricanes, 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 28 vs. Hurricanes, 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 29 vs. Predators, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, September 30 at Predators, 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 6 at Panthers, 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 8 vs. Panthers, 4:00 p.m.