(BOSTON) — The St. Louis Blues active defense re-emerged in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after succumbing to the Boston Bruins stampede in Game 1. St. Louis defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (1) blasted a one-timer with whizzed through a screen and grabbed the top shelf netting in overtime. St. Louis re-discovered their strengths and earned a split in the first two games with a 3-2 OT win at TD Garden Wednesday night. The Stanley Cup Final is tied 1-1.
It was the first Finals win for the St. Louis franchise which was part of the original 1967 expansion but was swept in the 1970 Final (against the Bruins). And it was the first Finals overtime game since 2016 when the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 2.
OT was short as the Bruins found themselves in trouble. Boston faced a delayed penalty but St. Louis never got the power play. Just under four minutes into the extra period, St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly dropped to a knee to keep possession in the zone. O’Reilly slid the puck to Gunnarsson (1) who bombed a one-timer past Rask.
For St. Louis, it was a special moment that also possessed some irony. After all the talk about the Bobby Orr goal from 1970, it was a defenseman wearing No. 4 who scored the game-winning goal.
The Bruins continued upon their Game 1 domination in the first period. They went for the kill-shot early and unleashed a frantic start. Just four minutes into the game, the Bruins power play again lit the lamp. Jake DeBrusk glided into the offensive zone along the far wall and then zipped a pass to Charlie Coyle, who freely found his way into the open slot. Coyle (7) snapped a shot past St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington.
St. Louis never responded on Monday. In Game 2, they answered five minutes later. Midway through the first period, defenseman Robert Bortuzzo corralled a rebound at a sharp angle along the wall. Bortuzzo’s (2) slapper from the wall somehow got by Rask.
However, the Bruins needed only 40 seconds to answer.
Bruins forward Sean Kuraly beat St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson to a loose puck behind the St. Louis goal, won a battle along the wall and then flipped a backhander into the slot. Kural’s blind pass appeared to be destined for a St. Louis stick but found the skates of teammate Joakim Nordstrom. Nordstrom kicked the puck to his backhand and tucked it behind Jordan Binnington.
The drama of the first period wasn’t over because St. Louis responded again. With about five minutes remaining in the first period, St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz breezed by Zdeno Chara into the offensive zone. Schwartz’s wrist shot from the faceoff circle provided a juicy rebound for Vlad Tarasenko who attempted to deke Rask. The Bruins goalie stood his ground and made a pad save to deny the Russian sniper’s shot.
With five minutes before the first intermission, Tarasenko (10) stuck with the play and elevated a backhander over Rask.
The teams combined for four goals in the first 15 minutes. But there wasn’t another goal scored in regulation time.
Binnington and Rask both were sharp. The St. Louis netminder stopped all 15 shots the second and third periods. Rask was far busier. He made 14 saves in the second period and another nine in the final period. Overall, Rask stopped 31 of 33 shots faced in regulation time.
The Boston Bruins scored on their first powerplay but were lifeless in their next four attempts. That included one in the third period with the crowd loudly singing Bon Jovi’s hit “Livin’ On A Prayer”.
When asked about his team’s powerplay struggles in Game 2, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy gave an honest assessment. “I don’t think we executed as well, force them to defend in their zone. Obviously we had one clean entry that resulted in a goal. A couple others we had a little bit of time. I thought they did a better job cutting off the top so we got stuck in the half wall.”
The Bruins could be without defender Matt Grzelcyk for a period of time. The local product took a vicious hit from behind from Oskar Sundqvist and was forced to leave the contest. Cassidy didn’t have too much to update on postgame. “No, well he got hit from behind. That’s what was called. His head got driven into the glass. So, he went to the hospital to get some tests. He never returned obviously; so we’re still waiting for an update.”
Game 3 goes on Saturday night at 8:00 pm in St. Louis.
Check back for the BHN Game 2 Report Card and Analysis from reporter Jimmy Murphy.