Sunday, June 2, 2019

First Stanley Cup home game in 49 years a dud for Blues

Boston scores four power-play goals, Krug leads way with goal, three 
assists in 7-2 victory, take 2-1 series lead; Binnington pulled for first time

ST. LOUIS -- It looked good for about the first five-plus minutes, and the first Stanley Cup Final game in St. Louis since May 5, 1970 (17,924 days) was off to a rousing start.

It didn't take long for the script to flip, and the Boston Bruins reclaimed advantage in the series.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington (50) can't stop a goal by Boston's Patrice
Bergeron (37) in the first period of Game 3 on Saturday night.

And Boston's power play was spotless, a point of troubles for the Blues in this series, and they find themselves down 2-1 in the series.

Torey Krug had a goal and three assists, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie Coyle each had a goal and two assists, and the Bruins were a perfect 4-for-4 with the man advantage and took the zing out of the Enterprise Center crowd with a convincing 7-2 win over the Blues on Saturday.

It wasn't what the Blues were looking for, considering the block party that started and the buzz around town filled the downtown streets with plenty of blue and yellow memorabilia being worn.

The result was a bludgeoning that sent 18,789 home with frowns instead of smiles and left the Blues feeling, well, blue.

The Bruins, who scored their four power-play goals on four shots, used the second half of the first period to their advantage and scored three times to take control, including a goal scored with 9.2 seconds left in the second period that Blues interim coach Craig Berube challenged for offside, only to lose it, get penalized and Boston scoring 41 seconds into the second period to add to the misery.

Yeah, it was that kind of night.

"We’ve got to keep this thing 5-on-5," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "We gave them too many chances early on. Five-on-five, we actually did a pretty good job, it’s just a matter of keeping them off that power play."

The Blues started the game without all that pent-up energy that comes with playing that first home Cup Final game and had a 5-0 lead on the shot counter early. 

And then that was that.

Jordan Binnington was pulled for the first time in his NHL career in the second period, and not much good came from what started out as an amazing day.

"They played well," Blues forward Alexander Steen said. "We let in one on our PK right off the hop and they got some momentum. ... We kind of dug ourselves a hole that we couldn't get out of."

Bergeron's power-play goal came after David Perron was whistled for interference near center ice, preventing what was already a 2-on-1 that Pietrangelo broke up. The Blues lost the face-off, and Bergeron redirected in Krug's shot from near the blue line at 10:47 to make it 1-0.

Coyle made it 2-0 at 17:40 when the Bruins broke out into an odd-man rush after Sammy Blais, who blew up former Blue David Backes early in the game, pulled back from a clear chance to shoulder check Coyle off the puck. He didn't and Coyle finished off a Marcus Johansson pass.

And then came the nail in the coffin goal, scored by Sean Kuraly, at 19:50 to make it 3-0. It was a busted play that first saw Pietrangelo turn the puck over in the neutral zone playing it off the wall, the puck came back into the zone, and Kuraly beat Binnington short side.

Berube challenged that Joakim Nordstrom was offside, and he was, but the problem is that the NHL's Situation Room determined that Joel Edmundson played the puck back into the defensive zone and thus eliminated any chance for offside.

The goal stood, the Blues and their fans were stunned, and Boston poured it on more when David Pastrnak made it 4-0 at the 41-second mark of the second period.

"I thought it was 50/50," Berube said of the challenge. "I think if we go in there 2-0 into the second, it's a big difference than 3-0."

Assistant/video coach Sean Ferrell has been good on these, for the limited amount of times the Blues have made this call, and he saved the Blues in a game late in the season with a challenge that went their way, and he must have thought Edmundson didn't have control of the puck when it was played off his stick, but the league felt like he did.

"It's difficult," O'Reilly said. "Obviously them having the 3-0 lead, we want to wipe that period away and then you're coming out and you're killing. It's tough. I think they've got to make that challenge. It was close. It's unfortunate it puts us on the PK and they get one again right off the bat, so it kind of took the wind right out and any chance of that early push that we needed in the start of that second.

"You never know what's going to happen. It's tough. From looking at it from my side, it didn't seem like [Edmundson] had control, but at the end of the day, that's the call that was made and we needed to respond better than we did."

They didn't.

The Blues' fourth line, sans the suspended Oskar Sundqvist, produced an Ivan Barbashev goal at 11:05 to make it a 4-1 game on a good cycle play in which Zach Sanford, playing in place of Sundqvist, laid a nice reverse check on Zdeno Chara before feeding Barbashev in the slot.

But Boston would answer 1:07 later when Krug scored the Bruins' third power-play goal, a shot off defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's stick, off Binnington's glove and into the short side to make it 5-1 and ending Binnington's night; he allowed five goals on 19 shots and Jake Allen came on.

"It's not his fault at all," Perron said. "I'm sure he's disappointed, but it has nothing to do (with him). If there's one reason we're here, it's because of him. Games like that, we don't want them to happen but it did tonight. Much like the hand pass against San Jose, even though it's a different situation, but we have to find a way to turn the page and come back way better."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) tries to defend against Boston
center Patrice Bergeron on Saturday at Enterprise Center.

Colton Parayko's power-play goal at 5:24 of the third period made it a 5-2 game, but Boston would get an empty-net goal from Noel Acciari at 18:12 and another power-play goal from Johansson at 18:35.

"There were some deflections. Two of them," Berube said of the penalty kill. "One went off of Bergeron with a deflection, we didn't get his stick. One went off Bouwmeester's stick and in. We've got to be better. Penalty kill's got to be better.

"... We do have to limit the penalties for sure. We know they have a dangerous power play and we've been flirting with danger here the whole series and it burnt us tonight. But in saying that, we've got to do a better job of killing them tonight and we didn't. That's why they won the hockey game."

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