Blues beat Bru­ins to knot Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal at 2-all

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS -

ST. LOUIS — Just when the St. Louis Blues had the Bos­ton Bru­ins on their heels and chasing the game, they gave up a goal and the roar went right out of the build­ing.

The Blues could have let the tal­ented Bru­ins seize the mo­ment, let things get away from them on home ice. Again.

They didn’t. The team that was mired in last place in the NHL in Jan­uary, that suf­fered from missed calls in the play­offs and slogged through some tough losses in­stead showed the re­solve of a cham­pi­onship con­tender and is now two vic­to­ries away from lift­ing the Stan­ley Cup.

Ryan O’reilly scored the open­ing goal 43 sec­onds in and the win­ner with 9:22 left, and he and the Blues beat the Blues thrived in a chaotic Game 4 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal on Mon­day night to beat the Bru­ins 4-2 and tie this bruis­ing se­ries at two games apiece.

“We knew what we had to do tonight to be a bet­ter team,” coach Craig Berube said. “We were relentless tonight. We didn’t stop for 60 min­utes.”

Game 5 is Thurs­day night in Bos­ton.

This one was a back-and­forth thriller, with Bos­ton’s Tuukka Rask and St. Louis’ Jor­dan Bin­ning­ton each giv­ing up tons of re­bounds for fran­tic scor­ing chances and scrums.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 11th goal of the play­offs, and Bin­ning­ton made 21 saves to im­prove to 7-2 in the post­sea­son after a loss. Even more im­pres­sive was the rookie’s bounce­back from be­ing pulled in Game 3 for the first time in his NHL ca­reer. Rask al­lowed three goals on 37 shots and was on the re­ceiv­ing end of sev­eral Blues on­slaughts.

“He spit some re­bounds out,” Bru­ins coach Bruce Cas­sidy said of Rask. “But I don’t have an is­sue with his re­bound con­trol.”

Char­lie Coyle scored for the third con­sec­u­tive game, and Bran­don Carlo had a short-handed goal for Bos­ton, but their stars were quiet again and a big prob­lem may be brewing: Bos­ton cap­tain Zdeno Chara was knocked out of the game by a puck to the mouth. Chara was al­lowed to sit on the bench, but it’s un­cer­tain if

he’ll be able to play in Game 5 when the Bru­ins could be with­out two of their top six de­fense­men.

O’reilly ended an eightgame goal drought by cash­ing in two re­bounds off Rask for his first multi-goal game since Novem­ber. After los­ing 15 of his 23 face­offs in a tough Game 3, O’reilly was dom­i­nant all over the ice.

“He’s been our best player all year and he got re­warded,” winger Pa­trick Ma­roon said of O’reilly.

Hockey Hall of Famer and Blues alum Brett Hull screamed at the top of his

lungs into the mi­cro­phone to pump up the crowd sec­onds be­fore puck drop, “Are you ready? Let’s Go Blues!”

They were ready, all right, and it started with O’reilly’s goal that was the Blues’ sixth in the open­ing two min­utes. They have done that now in all four rounds and are 6-0 when jump­ing out to a 1-0 lead in a game’s first 20 min­utes.

But this vic­tory was all about re­spond­ing well to yet an­other mo­men­tum swing that came on spe­cial teams: The Blues killed off a Bru­ins power play and then hemmed Bos­ton in its own end for more than three min­utes. While St. Louis cy­cled the puck in the offensive zone and changed

sev­eral for­ward lines and de­fen­sive pair­ings, Bos­ton de­fend­ers were gassed and Connor Clifton took a penalty for an illegal check to the head of Tarasenko.

Twenty-six sec­onds into the Blues power play, how­ever, the Bru­ins in­ex­pli­ca­bly got num­bers on a rush and Carlo scored short­handed to tie it again. It was the fourth short­handed goal St. Louis has al­lowed in the play­offs to only 13 power-play goals — but St. Louis didn’t fold.

“I’ve said it all play­offs: Things don’t re­ally seem to faze us,” said cap­tain Alex Pi­etrangelo, who as­sisted on O’reilly’s goals.

An­other re­bound off Rask paved the way for O’reilly’s go-ahead goal. With St.

Louis lead­ing, fans could hap­pily sing John Den­ver’s “Coun­try Roads” at the un­der 6-minute time­out, and Bray­den Schenn sealed it with an empty-net goal with 1:29 left.

“It’s any­one’s game now,” Blues for­ward Os­kar Sundqvist said.

When the fi­nal horn sounded, they played Laura Brani­gan’s “Glo­ria” to cel­e­brate the Blues’ first-ever home vic­tory in the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal.

“Ev­ery year you keep hear­ing, let’s go to fi­nals, let’s go win the Cup,” Tarsaenko said. “Even after last year, you hear it all sum­mer. Peo­ple start be­liev­ing in us and we feel it.”

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