The Washington Post

Bru­ins get the bounce, force Game 7

BRU­INS 5, BLUES 1

- BY IS­ABELLE KHURSHUDYA­N Sports · Ice Hockey · NHL Hockey · Boston Bruins · Sao Tome and Principe · St. Louis Blues · Boston · Patrice Bergeron · Chelsea F.C. · National Hockey League · Jordan Binnington · Brandon Carlo · Tuukka Rask · Jake DeBrusk · Brad Marchand · Alex Pietrangelo · Colton Parayko · Noel Acciari · David Perron

st. louis — The puck took one hop and then an­other, bounc­ing right past Blues goal­tender Jor­dan Bin­ning­ton, who turned to watch it skip over the goal line be­fore drop­ping his head back in res­ig­na­tion. St. Louis had waited 51 sea­sons for the Stan­ley Cup to be in the build­ing, and a 61-foot drib­bling shot by Bos­ton’s Bran­don Carlo all but en­sured the tro­phy would stay locked in its case for a few more days.

For the first time since 2011, the Stan­ley Cup fi­nals are go­ing seven games af­ter the Bru­ins’ 5-1 win Sun­day night at En­ter­prise Cen­ter. This one came down to Bos­ton’s su­pe­rior spe­cial teams and the goal­tend­ing — both Tuukka Rask’s bril­liance and Bin­ning­ton’s gaffe on Carlo’s long-range shot in the third pe­riod. It had been a one-goal game at that point, but af­ter Carlo scored at 2:31, Kar­son Kuhlman, play­ing in just his sev­enth game of the play­offs, ex­tended Bos­ton’s lead at 10:15.

Blues cen­ter Ryan O’Reilly fi­nally gave St. Louis fans some­thing to cheer about less than two min­utes later with a shot that barely beat Rask’s ex­tended pad — a video re­view con­firmed the puck just made it com­pletely across the goal line — but the Blues couldn’t get on the board again as Rask fin­ished with 28 saves.

David Pas­tr­nak added a fourth tally for the Bru­ins with 5:54 left, and cap­tain Zdeno Chara had a late empty-net­ter.

“You’ve got two good teams that have gone toe to toe here,” Bos­ton Coach Bruce Cas­sidy said. “The whole hockey world loves a Game 7. May the best team win.”

As blue-clad fans blan­keted down­town for a watch party out­side the arena and lo­cal news­pa­per ads con­grat­u­lat­ing St. Louis on its first cham­pi­onship prema

turely leaked on­line, Bos­ton’s Jake DeBrusk said it all be­came fodder for mo­ti­va­tion. But the big­gest in­spi­ra­tion came from al­ter­nate cap­tain Pa­trice Berg­eron, who ad­dressed the team.

“It made us all want to run through a wall,” DeBrusk said.

“It was ex­actly what we needed,” de­fense­man Char­lie McAvoy said. “It was an el­e­ment of what the dream is. Grow­ing up, ev­ery one of us shares the same dream. . . . We were all a lit­tle kid once, and we all wanted this bad. And I think it was just an el­e­ment of sa­vor­ing this mo­ment and not let­ting it end tonight. It was ex­actly what we needed, and he stepped up. When he talks, you lis­ten.”

What started as a rau­cous crowd got quiet af­ter Bos­ton scored the first goal. St. Louis for­ward Bray­den Schenn was pe­nal­ized for board­ing Joakim Nord­strom 7:17 into the game, and as O’Reilly at­tempted a clear on the penalty kill, he back­handed the puck over the glass for a de­lay-ofgame penalty. That gave the Bru­ins a two-man ad­van­tage, and Brad Marc­hand needed just 21 sec­onds to score from the right face­off circle.

Mean­while, St. Louis’s power play en­tered in a 1-for-14 slump for the se­ries, a streak that ex­tended to 1 for 18 on Sun­day night. The Blues didn’t cap­i­tal­ize on their first two power plays, and they had a third man-ad­van­tage 9:11 into the se­cond pe­riod af­ter Marc­hand was whis­tled for trip­ping Alex Pi­etrangelo.

That’s when St. Louis had its best chances, such as de­fense­man Colton Parayko tip­ping the puck just wide at point-blank range. Then Pi­etrangelo’s back­hand clanged off the post, and the bounc­ing puck nearly got past Rask, who made a be­hind-the­back save. He has been the Bru­ins’ best player this post­sea­son, en­ter­ing Game 6 with a .937 save per­cent­age and a 1.97 goals against av­er­age through 22 games.

Rask fin­ished with 12 saves when the Blues were on the power play.

“He’s our best player, and he has been all play­offs,” McAvoy said.

The Bru­ins felt they had been “screwed,” as Cas­sidy put it, by the of­fi­ci­at­ing in their 2-1 loss Thurs­day in Game 5. The Blues’ Tyler Bozak tripped for­ward Noel Ac­ciari — and was not pe­nal­ized — mo­ments be­fore David Per­ron scored what be­came the gamewin­ning goal, and Cas­sidy’s re­marks af­ter the game were pointed, re­fer­ring to the ref­er­ee­ing this post­sea­son as a “black eye” for the NHL. He also im­plied that the Blues were get­ting more calls and non-calls in their fa­vor be­cause Coach Craig Berube had com­plained about penal­ties ear­lier.

“Our play should de­fine us, not a call,” Cas­sidy said Fri­day. “It will be part of the mes­sage.”

When whis­tles went against the Bru­ins on Sun­day, they re­sponded with solid penalty killing in a gutsy per­for­mance by a team that’s hurt­ing. Chara played a se­cond straight game wear­ing a full cage af­ter a shot hit him in the face dur­ing Game 4, re­port­edly break­ing his jaw. Speak­ing publicly for the first time Satur­day, he wouldn’t say whether he has been able to eat prop­erly, and just speak­ing at all has been chal­leng­ing for him.

Rask has been the team’s ul­ti­mate eraser, and while he was on the Bos­ton team that won the cham­pi­onship in 2011, he didn’t play in that post­sea­son. But those Bru­ins were the last team to win a Game 7 in the Stan­ley Cup fi­nals — when they beat Van­cou­ver in 2011 — and they will get a chance to do it again Wed­nes­day night.

“The emo­tions, like, crap, it’s a lot,” McAvoy said. “Our backs are against the wall, and you have so many mixed emo­tions. You do what­ever it takes . . . . But I got a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive when our guys stepped up and just talked. It was an el­e­ment of hon­esty to it, about be­ing in this po­si­tion and know­ing that if we just do our jobs, we’re a fam­ily . . . .

“Just the thought of it be­ing over tonight was ter­ri­fy­ing. We’d come all this way. We come to­gether when it mat­ters, and I think tonight was just a good ex­am­ple of that.”

 ?? JEFF ROBERSON/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS ?? Brad Marc­hand scored the game’s first goal for Bos­ton, which pulled away with four goals in the third pe­riod Sun­day in St. Louis.
JEFF ROBERSON/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Brad Marc­hand scored the game’s first goal for Bos­ton, which pulled away with four goals in the third pe­riod Sun­day in St. Louis.
 ?? SCOTT KANE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS ?? Bru­ins goalie Tuukka Rask, here thwart­ing the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, fin­ished with 28 saves in Game 6.
SCOTT KANE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Bru­ins goalie Tuukka Rask, here thwart­ing the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, fin­ished with 28 saves in Game 6.

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