Last night, the Stanley Cup got underway at TD Garden in Boston. It started out well for the Blues. They capitalized on two Bruins mistakes to take a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
But following Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal off a David Pastrnak turnover a minute into the second, the Bruins responded on the next shift with Connor Clifton able to redirect a Sean Kuraly pass at the goal mouth to cut the deficit to one. The momentum shifting goal changed Game One. It was all Bruins afterwards.
They tilted the ice for over 30 minutes with a wide shot margin. Boston dominated play. They scored the last four goals to post a 4-2 comeback win to take Game One. It was the depth of the Bruins that came through on Memorial Day. Kuraly got the game-winner at 5:21 of the third to finish as the game’s first star with a goal and assist. His fourth line made an immediate impact.
So did Clifton, who had a strong night. In 13:13 of ice-time, the defenseman scored Boston’s first goal and played well overall. His contributions along with Kuraly, Noel Acciari, Joakim Nordstrom, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk were instrumental in helping the Bruins take a one game to none lead over the Blues.
On a night the Blues got good production from the top line of Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz, the Bruins overcame an off game from their top line. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak were outplayed by the Schenn line at five-on-five.
Rare mistakes from Bergeron, Pastrnak and captain Zdeno Chara allowed St. Louis to take a 2-0 lead. Schenn was given too much time and space on his first of the series. A miscommunication between Pastrnak and Chara resulted in Tarasenko staying hot with his ninth of the postseason from Schenn.
St. Louis took some undisciplined penalties that hurt them. It started in the first when David Perron and Robert Thomas were whistled for minors 3:30 apart. Even though the Bruins didn’t score on the power play, they regained momentum following a flat start due to rust.
As Boston found their skating legs to outshoot the Blues 18-3 in a lopsided second, the Blues continued to take ill advised penalties. Joel Edmundson came up high on David Backes. It was an easy hi-sticking call. This frustrated him. He gave Backes an extra shove because he felt the former St. Louis captain embellished it. He didn’t. It was ridiculous.
An Oskar Sundqvist cross check on Clifton finally cost St. Louis the lead. On a broken play, Charlie McAvoy skated into the Blues zone and surprised rookie Jordan Binnington with a shot that deflected for an unassisted power play goal. That tied the score. Up to that point, the Blues aggressive penalty kill had been getting the job done. They attacked trigger man Marchand. But he was still able to get some dangerous chances with one shot hitting the crossbar while another was a tough save for Binnington.
Of the three Boston top liners, Marchand was the sharpest. He created chances due to his speed and smarts. That included a tricky backhand following a strong move to the net. He would later seal the game with an empty netter with 1:49 left. He leads the Bruins in scoring this postseason with 19 points (8-11-19).
After they were lucky to escape the second still tied, the Blues continued to struggle with the Bruins forecheck. A good shift from the Boston fourth line resulted in Kuraly finishing off a play in front from Acciari and Chara at 5:21 of the third. He isn’t a flashy player. Just an effective one who does the grunt work. Boston might not have advanced over Toronto in the first round without Kuraly. He finished the Leafs off with a highlight reel goal in the third.
You need everyone to win games at this stage. It’s all hands on deck. Boston got that in Game One. St. Louis didn’t. Even though Schenn was dangerous throughout along with Tarasenko, it wasn’t enough to steal the game. Penalty trouble and not enough support cost them.
Ryan O’Reilly was invisible. Other Blues such as Perron were due to physical battles in the trenches. Binnington was involved with Marchand on one play where he impeded the pesky Bruins forward, who didn’t take kindly following a whistle.
It was that kind of game. There was an edge to it and nastiness which made it entertaining. Torey Krug had the hit of the game when he cleanly knocked down Thomas. That got the crowd going.
The hockey wasn’t great. Not when you had neither team playing their best. Boston early due to a 10 day layoff. St. Louis later due to a malaise.
Hopefully, tomorrow’s game will be better. For the Blues’ sake, they hope so.