The Boston Bruins are alive and headed home for one more game, thanks in large part to Tuukka Rask.
The veteran goaltender bounced back from two straight losses to practically will the Bruins – you did see the second-period save where he pinned the puck to his back, didn’t you? – past the St. Louis Blues 5-1 Sunday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.
Rask stopped 27 of 28 shots to run his franchise record of road wins in a single playoffs to eight. The game was tighter than the final score might indicate — it was 1-0 until early in the third period — because of Rask’s stinginess.
That kept the Blues from clinching the Stanley Cup, which was in Enterprise Center but never sniffed the ice, and set up a winner-take-all Game 7 Wednesday at TD Garden – where the Tuuu-birds will surely be in full voice.
“Tuukka played amazing, as he’s done this whole playoffs,” the Bruins’ Charlie Coyle told NBC. “That was a solid win for us.”
Twelve of Rask’s saves came while the Bruins were shorthanded; St. Louis was 0 for 4 on the power play.
Brad Marchand, Brandon Carlo, Karson Kuhlman, David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara scored the Bruins’ goals.
Ryan O’Reilly scored for St. Louis, and Jordan Binnington made 27 saves.
Boston, on a five-on-three power play, took a 1-0 lead at 9:40 of the first period.
In a nice display of passing, Torey Krug, near the top of the right circle, slid the puck to his left to David Pastrnak. With the slot clogged, Pastrnak lined a set-up to Marchand, who from the bottom of the right circle went down to one knee to perfectly time and place a one-timer over Binnington short side.
“I think it allowed us to settle into the game,” Marchand, in an interview with NBC, said of his goal. “It’s a lot easier to play with the lead.”
The Bruins’ power play had been a stalwart these playoffs, but they had been 0-for-5 combined in Games 4 and 5. And Marchand had scored just once in this series, an empty-netter in Game 1.
That lead held until 2:31 of the third period, when Carlo gave Boston a bit more cushion. His shot from the right point bounced and knuckled and went in off Binnington’s blocker to make it 2-0.
Kuhlman had not played since April 30, Game 3 of the second round, and some eyebrows were raised when he displaced David Backes in the lineup Sunday.
But he came through with a goal to make it 3-0 at 10:15 of the third on a shot that sailed into the top corner of the net past Binnington’s blocker.
O’Reilly spoiled Rask’s shutout bid at 12:01 of the third on a shot from the left circle that required a video review to confirm the puck crossed the goal line.
Pastrnak restored the three-goal lead when he lifted the puck over Binnington’s left pad at 14:06 of the third.
Chara added an empty-netter on a long-range shot with 2:19 left.
“Everyone dreams of being in a Game 7, Stanley Cup final, and we’re about to live it,” Marchand said. “We’re going to enjoy every second, and, hopefully, it goes our way.”