The Blues celebrated becoming the Western Conference Champions posing on ice with the Clarence Campbell trophy. (Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports)
ST. LOUIS, MO – For the first time in 49 years, the Blues are headed to the Stanley Cup Final to face their last foe: the Boston Bruins.
After a dominant game 5 victory, the St. Louis Blues (3-2) returned to an electric city amidst tornado warnings to play in a critical game 6 against the San Jose Sharks (2-3). Despite the nerve-racking anxiety, the city of St. Louis had all eyes (and voices) on the Blues, ready to support them, and the Blues came through with a 5-1 victory. Rookie Sammy Blais proved his presence was not to be trifled with in helping David Perron score early in the game.
The Blues were up 2-0 when San Jose’s rookie Dylan Gambrell scored his first NHL goal to cut their deficit in half, but the Blues persevered. Tyler Bozak scored in the third and Ivan Barbashev grabbed an empty netter to send St. Louis to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1970 and fourth in franchise history. They will face against the Boston Bruins for a rematch 49 years in the making. Jordan Binnington made 25 saves to secure his 12th win, the most by any Blues rookie goaltender in history.
The emotion and noise in Enterprise Center were unparalleled, and the emotion immediately fueled the Blues. Just 92 seconds in, David Perron scored his 6th of the postseason on a deflection from Sammy Blais to put St. Louis up early.
Three “new” faces for the Blues 2019 roster contributed to the goal: David Perron, Sammy Blais, and Ryan O’Reilly. With the early goal, the Blues’ defensive pressure was dominant, while the Sharks’ were missing the presence of Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, and captain Joe Pavelski. The Blues remained calm and collected in their own zone and generated lots of chances, but goaltender Martin Jones was spectacular to keep his team alive.
Tarasenko’s 8th of the playoffs came six seconds into the power play and doubled the Blues lead. He was assisted by Colton Parayko and O’Reilly. St. Louis kept the Sharks’ chances away from Jordan Binnington, and the Blues went to the locker room up 2-0. The Sharks outshot the Blues by a pair, 9-7, but trailed by a pair.
The Sharks came out in the second wanting to fire back, but St. Louis’ defense would allow none of it. They continued to fire shots on Martin Jones, who was standing on his head. He played so well, in fact, that he passed to Joonas Donskoi who perfectly fed rookie Dylan Gambrell. Gambrell had a clear-cut breakaway and buried his first NHL goal at the most crucial time.
Martin Jones had his second assist of the playoffs that cut the Blues’ lead 2-1. The Blues refused to let the Sharks carry over that emotion, however, and continued the pressuring that got them this far in the postseason. After a terrific scoring opportunity was saved by Jones, the Blues forced another power play opportunity. A point blast by the captain Pietrangelo was blocked away by Jones, and Brayden Schenn cashed in on the rebound.
Brayden Schenn’s 2nd of the playoffs came courtesy of the captain Pietrangelo and Robert Thomas, who helped keep the power play alive. The Sharks and Blues would trade chances back and forth, but goaltenders on both sides would keep everything out of the net the remainder of the period. With a 3-1 lead, the Blues were 20 minutes away from making history. The shot total was even through two periods, 16 all.
With the season on the line, the San Jose Sharks came out hitting with everything they had. They registered nine straight shots, throwing everything but the kitchen sink to the Blues’ goal. However, Jordan Binnington proved why he was nominated as a Calder finalist with outstanding saves.
The saves propelled St. Louis to get back into the offensive zone, and they converted. Tyler Bozak and Ryan O’Reilly broke through the Sharks’ defense on the rush and it was Bozak who managed to beat Martin Jones with seven minutes left.
The goal made it 4-1 in St. louis’ favor, and the dream was quickly becoming reality for the Blues. It was officially San Jose’s final stand, and they pulled Jones to get an extra attacker. However, the “bottom” line for the Blues contributed with a solid defensive effort, and Ivan Barbashev nailed the final dagger.
Barbashev’s 2nd helped seal the deal for game 6, with the help of Oskar Sundqvist, to lead 5-1. A roaring Enterprise Center cheered on the final seconds of the series and the St. Louis Blues had officially punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.
Jordan Binnington made 25 saves in his 12th playoff victory, the most by any Blues’ rookie goaltender in history. The win gave the Blues the series victory and exacted revenge after losing to the Sharks in 6 back in 2015. Now, the Blues are off to Boston to face off in their fourth Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.
The Blues felt the elation of becoming the Western Conference Champions for the first time in almost five decades. “[It’s] excitement and relief that we put in all that work, and here we go [to play in the Final],” captain Alex Pietrangelo told media after the game. “It’s been a long road, but it’s fun to share it with these guys, and being at home too; celebrating this with our families is pretty special.”
“The final minutes counting down, and how loud the rink was and the atmosphere; that was awesome,” Jordan Binnington commented. “It’s a special moment for all of us, I’m sure, and we’re excited and looking forward for the next round.”
“It’s obviously a great feeling for everyone: The fans, our organization, ownership, and management, players, training staff… They all deserve credit, it’s a great feeling,” coach Craig Berube told Jim Thomas. “Credit to our players; they believed they were going to make the playoffs, and now we’re here.”
The St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins face off for the Stanley Cup, starting May 27th at 8pm ET at TD Garden. Full schedule is provided below:
Game 1: 5/27, 8pm ET, @ BOS
G2: 5/29, 8pm ET @ BOS
G3: 6/1, 8pm ET @ STL
G4: 6/3, 8pm ET @ STL
G5 (If necessary): 6/6, 8pm ET @ BOS
G6 (If necessary): 6/9, 8pm ET @ STL
G7 (If necessary): 6/12, 8pm ET @ BOS
All games will be broadcasted on NBCSN (Sportsnet for Canadian viewers) and through KMOX 1120 AM/KSDK Y98 FM on the radio side.
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