After back-to-back Stanley Cup championships for the Tampa Bay Lightning, coach Jon Cooper couldn't believe he was uttering these words:

"We're going for three."

The last time an NHL team won three straight Stanley Cups was from 1981-83, as part of the New York Islanders' run of four straight championships.

"'We're going for three.' To say that out loud is kind of crazy," Cooper told ESPN, before his team's first-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, currently tied 1-1. "You don't get these chances often. They don't come around. It's like we've seen the top of the mountain. Let's keep going for more."

The chance to three-peat has come around only five times since the Islanders' run, with the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins going back-to-back twice and the Detroit Red Wings winning two in a row once. All failed to make it a hat trick.

If the Lightning win a third straight Cup, they cement themselves as a dynasty. If they fall short? Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier said that's a special kind of pain.

"It was crushing. It was horrible. It was one of the worst experiences of our careers to be honest with you," Messier said of the Oilers' second-round loss to the Calgary Flames in 1986, which snapped their run of two straight Cups.

"When you win two in a row, it feels like the Cup belongs to you. To see someone else parade around the ice was not very pleasant."

Messier had another back-to-back run with Edmonton, winning Cups in 1987 and 1988. Hockey Hall of Famer Larry Murphy also had two shots at a three-peat in the 1990s, with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings. But it was that loss for the Penguins in 1993 — in the second round against the Islanders — that still haunts him.

"It was the most disappointing season in my career, without a doubt," he said.

Aaron Ward was a defenseman for that Red Wings team when it won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998, before losing in the second round in 1999 to their archrivals, the Colorado Avalanche.

"I don't know if it's any better to get eliminated in the Stanley Cup [Final], but to get eliminated in the second round … that's pulling out your driver and not getting it past the novice tees," he said.

As the Lightning push for the three-peat in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, they're discovering how hard the path gets during the third time around. Those who attempted the three-peat, but fell short, can relate.