Brad Marchand, Bruins Blow out Blues to Force Game 7 of NHL Stanley Cup Final

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2019

Boston Bruins' David Krejci (46), of the Czech Republic, celebrates with Patrice Bergeron (37) and David Pastrnak (88), of the Czech Republic, after teammate Brad Marchand scored a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Sunday, June 9, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)
Scott Kane/Associated Press

The Boston Bruins came back from a 3-2 deficit to win the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

They took the first step toward repeating history Sunday with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final at the Enterprise Center. The series is tied at three games apiece, meaning St. Louis will have to be victorious in a Game 7 on the road if it plans to win the championship for the first time in franchise history.

Brad Marchand, Brandon Carlo, Karson Kuhlman, David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara scored the goals for the Bruins, but the night belonged to goaltender Tuukka Rask.

He turned away 28 of the 29 shots he faced, far outpacing counterpart Jordan Binnington (27 saves on 31 shots) and silencing a St. Louis crowd that was ready to celebrate a title. Only Ryan O'Reilly found the back of the net for the Blues, and it was far too late to make a difference.

It appeared the Blues were going to deliver in front of that raucous crowd with the Stanley Cup in the building when they dictated play in the early going and peppered Rask with chances. The veteran goaltender was the only thing standing in the way of St. Louis riding the initial momentum all the way to a championship and stood strong throughout the first power play after Sean Kuraly went to the box.

The home team came up empty despite the significant pressure and lost its control when Brayden Schenn picked up a vicious boarding penalty and O'Reilly followed him to the box with a delay of game.

Boston took full advantage of the space in the offensive zone on the resultant five-on-three, and Marchand fired a laser one-timer right into the back of the net to seize the early lead.

The visitors never looked back as Rask turned away shot after shot, and Blues fans would be forgiven if their thoughts turned toward potential jinxes. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an advertisement celebrating a Blues title and a letter from team chairman and governor Tom Stillman thanking the fans before the game even started.

"Winning the Stanley Cup was a dream come true for so many of you. All of us will remember where we were, what we did and how we felt when the Blues brought the Cup home," Stillman wrote, per Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com.

It became clear in the second period Rask was more responsible for the Blues' predicament than any jinxes.

He unleashed a lightning-quick glove save when Schenn had an opportunity in a dangerous position and then turned away two power plays to preserve the 1-0 advantage. He had a little help from Charlie McAvoy during the first one, as the defenseman knocked away the rare puck that found its way behind Rask.

It was more of the same brilliance from the man between the pipes who entered Sunday's contest with a 1.97 goals against average and .937 save percentage in these playoffs—both bests throughout the postseason field. He hasn't allowed more than three goals in a game since the first round, and that wasn't about to change with Boston's season on the line.

Binnington largely kept pace with Rask through two periods, which was no surprise considering the rookie who turned around St. Louis' season after an abysmal start allowed just one goal in Game 5 and looked to be replicating his hero performance from the Western Conference Final, during which he gave up a combined two goals in the last three games.

However, his night turned in the third period on an unfortunate bounce after Carlo flicked the puck to the net just to keep it in the offensive zone.

It was a shot Binnington absolutely had to turn away, especially with Rask as dialed in as he's been all postseason. St. Louis turned up the pressure in an effort to climb back in the game, but that just left it vulnerable on the defensive side.

Kuhlman exploited the additional space with a perfectly placed shot to make it 3-0, which proved more important than it initially seemed when O'Reilly put the Blues on the board. Even when St. Louis scored, it was a testament to Rask's individual effort as he lunged across the net to make a pad save on a shot that was deemed a goal because it narrowly crossed the red line.

The game was still never truly in doubt, and Pastrnak made sure of it by beating Binnington before Chara notched an empty-netter.

Binnington has bounced back a number of times this postseason—including in the Stanley Cup Final with two straight wins after allowing five goals in Game 3—and he will need to do just that in Game 7 if the Blues are going to make history.

He and his teammates will also have to find a way to solve Rask, who looked ready to carry his team to the seventh championship in franchise history during Sunday's dominant performance.

           

What’s Next?

The decisive Game 7 is Wednesday at TD Garden.

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