Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk (74) joins in the celebration after Brandon Carlo (25) scores the eventual game-winner. (Photo courtesy: Scott Kane, AP Photo)
ST. LOUIS, MO – Maybe this is the way it was always meant to be.
On the cusp of history, the St. Louis Blues (3-2) looked to win their first ever Stanley Cup in front of Enterprise Center against the Boston Bruins (2-3). The Bruins, however, spoiled the moods of the nearly 75,000 fans watching in the heart of St. Louis with a 5-1 victory, bringing the final game of the Stanley Cup Final back to Boston. Brad Marchand scored early on a 5-on-3 power play and Tuukka Rask performed phenomenally, making 28 saves on 29 shots.
Ryan O’Reilly scored the lone goal for the Blues midway through the 3rd after the play was reviewed, but the damage had been done. The Bruins return to TD Garden with a chance to win their 7th Stanley Cup, while the Blues look to take their first in a winner-take-all game 7. The final game of the 2019 season will begin on Wednesday at 7pm.
After the controversial ending to game 5, the Bruins came out in full force from the opening faceoff. The Blues were able to match it with their speed and physicality, however, and managed some early scoring chances.
An early power play for St. Louis saw them getting some of their best chances with the man advantage in this series, but Tuukka Rask stood tall for his team and kept the game scoreless. Midway through the game Brayden Schenn took an undisciplined boarding penalty, putting Boston on the power play.
A minute after, Ryan O’Reilly cleared the puck straight out of play, resulting in a delay of game minor. With a 5-on-3 advantage, David Pastrnak fed his partner Brad Marchand who perfectly sent a one-timer past Jordan Binnington.
Marchand’s 9th of the postseason was assisted by Pastrnak and Torey Krug, putting the Bruins up 1-0. St. Louis was unfazed, however, and stuck to the formulas that had gotten them this far. Despite more power play time, however, no one could get a puck past Rask, and St. Louis closed the period down 1-0. The Bruins outshot St. Louis 12-9 through the opening frame.
The Blues responded with even more force in the second period and continued to hammer away at Tuukka Rask. Despite this, and with more power play chances for the St. Louis, no one could find the back of the Boston net. On the other end, the Blues defense and the play of netminder Jordan Binnington was enough to keep their cage puck-free as well. The physicality of both teams ramped up in the second as well, despite being the lowest-hitting game of the series.
Try as they may, the Blues still couldn’t find Rask’s number, and the period closed with Boston still leading 1-0. Boston’s shots outnumbered St. Louis only by 1, just like the score: 20-19. The Blues needed a response in the last 20 if they wanted to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Blues knew what needed to be done in the third period, but the hungry Bruins had other ideas. 2:30 into the third, a soft shot from the point by Brandon Carlo deflected off two different players and beat Binnington’s blocker side.
Carlo’s second, assisted by Jake DeBrusk, doubled the Bruins lead and took a lot of life out of Enterprise Center. Things only got worse for the Blues midway through the third, when a turnover by Alex Pietrangelo lead to Karson Kuhlman scoring his first ever playoff goal.
Kuhlman’s wrister beat Jordan Binnington cleanly and gave the Bruins a huge 3-0 lead. Krejci grabbed the helper that sent St. Louis looking into a bad hole. Less than two minutes later, however, Ryan O’Reilly, with three goals in the last two games, jammed the puck just far enough past Rask. It took video review, put the puck completely crossed the goal line and gave St. Louis fans a reason to cheer.
Pietrangelo and David Perron helped O’Reilly grab his 7th of the postseason, cutting the deficit 3-1. However, Boston wasn’t interested in any resurgences by St. Louis. Minutes after the Blues goal, a defensive turnover behind their own net had two Bruins directly in front of the net and Pastrnak scored a wicked backhand goal.
Pastrnak’s 9th goal gave the 3-goal lead right back to the visitors. St. Louis pulled their goaltender with over four minutes to go, but Zdeno Chara launched an empty-netter all the way from his own zone. The Bruins scored 4 goals in the third to silence Enterprise Center and force game 7 back to Boston. The Bruins outshot the Blues 32-29.
The Blues know the trip to Boston wasn’t what they wanted, but there was little worry. “I think most of us have let it go,” Ryan O’Reilly commented to IRN after the game. “Of course, we wanted to win, but it didn’t happen, and we have to move on and prepare for the next one. It’s a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re confident. We’re a great road team.”
“Listen, if you told me 4 months ago we were going to be in game 7 of the Finals, I think I’d take it.” Craig Berube said in the postgame interview. “We’ve been a good road team, we’ve won twice up there in this series, so we’re a confident group.”
The final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs faces off at 8pm ET in TD Garden, where one team will be declared the 2019 Cup Champions. Live coverage will be on NBC and the radio broadcast can be heard on Y98.
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