The Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Rays each took steps forward in their attempts to secure championships in their coronavirus-shortened seasons.
The Lightning reached their third Stanley Cup Final in team history Thursday night with a 2-1 overtime victory against the New York Islanders in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final in Edmonton.
Also on Thursday, the Rays clinched an American League playoff berth during a doubleheader sweep of the Baltimore Orioles.
Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime to send the Lightning past the Islanders.
Tampa Bay, which won the Stanley Cup in 2004 and also reached the Cup final in 2015, clinched each of its three 2020 series victories in overtime.
Only New York lasted more than five games, pushing the Lightning to their limits before their talented core got them into the final.
The Lightning go on to face the Dallas Stars for the championship starting Saturday in Edmonton.
The Rays clinched a return trip to the postseason, using a strong pitching performance to beat the Orioles in the opener before cranking up the offense in a 10-6 nightcap victory that completed the sweep.
In the opener, Blake Snell and Diego Castillo combined on a three-hitter in a 3-1 win.
Needing a sweep to get into the AL playoffs for the second year in a row, the Rays got homers from Willy Adames, Hunter Renfroe and Joey Wendle before using a four-run fifth inning to take a 10-6 lead.
The Rays currently lead the second-place New York Yankees by 3 1/2 games in the American League East. The Rays play Game 3 of a five-game series with Baltimore on Friday night and are scheduled to wrap up the regular season a week from Sunday.
The Rays reached the playoffs last season, losing to the Houston Astros 3-2 in the American League Division Series. It will be the sixth postseason appearance in team history.