By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Right down to the wire. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues meet tonight for Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals with the series tied 2-2. The Bruins had a rough night in Game Four, losing 4-2 the final score. Tonight’s game in Boston is arguably the most important game to date for both teams.
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Home: Boston Bruins (14-9)
Away: St. Louis Blues (14-7)
Last Game Result: Blues won 4-2
Bruins Gameday Lineup:
The Boston Bruins will have the services of captain Zdeno Chara who suffered a facial injury following a blocked shot in the second period of Game Four, but will once again be without Matt Grzelcyk who is still out with an injury after going through concussion protocol. David Backes is out of the lineup and Steven Kampfer is in to make it seven defensemen and 11 forwards.
After and amazingly-loud opening anthem and introductions, Game Five is officially underway. Marcus Johansson gets the first good chances quite early in the game, taking a pass from Charlie Coyle and rushing hard for a wrap-around chance that nearly bounces up and over the pad of Binnington. Solid skating by Johansson to get the opportunity.
Less than four minutes in, Sean Kuraly lands a clean tape-to-tape pass across the zone to Brad Marchand who rips a hard wrist shot off of Binnington’s blocker. The rebound was briefly there for Kuraly but he could not beat Binnington there. Only seconds later, Noel Acciari levelled Alex Pietrangelo in the neutral zone that was met with cheers from the Boston faithful.
The Bruins then feel the pressure of the Blues dangerous forecheck and when they clear the puck out of the zone, it hits a small pile of excess snow on the ice, stopping the puck conveniently for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly stops up, sending a back-checking Brayden Schenn sliding on the ice. As the Blues recover, Vince Dunn sends the puck over the glass and the Bruins are off to the power-play. Unfortunately, Boston failed to capitalize on the first man-advantage of the game.
Boston has been getting quite a few chances past the halfway mark of the opening frame. Torey Krug demolished Alexander Steen behind Rask’s net, taking the puck away and a few passes later, Brad Marchand has some speed up the middle. Marchand stops up and feeds Pastrnak who blasts one off of the pads of Binnington. The Blues goaltender has been much more active already in this one.
At this point of the hockey game, Tuukka Rask has only faced four shots against but has had to make two large stops on Tyler Bozak and Jay Bouwmeester in the slot. Both goaltenders have been on their game as they have been all playoffs.
Just around five minutes to go, the top line of the Bruins get two Grade A scoring chances including a tight shot by Marchand that rang off of the short-side post and got the crowd cheering as they have been for what seems like the entire night so far. On the same shift, Bergeron unleashes a bomb from the high slot and Binnington continues to look great.
Another chance for Boston leads to a penalty for the Black and Gold. Brad Marchand attempts to poke the puck from Jordan Binnington but hit him in the mid-section, getting whistled for a slashing call. 2:38 remaining in the first period and St. Louis goes to their first man-advantage of the game. On that power-play, Chara turns the puck over on the clear attempt and roughly 25 seconds later, David Perron one-times a puck from a Ryan O’Reilly pass that gets robbed by a sprawling Tuukka Rask – penalty killed off.
Solid period for the Boston Bruins on both ends of the ice including Tuukka Rask while Jordan Binnington is the sole reason for this game being tied still.
Shots on Goals: BOS: 17 STL: 8
Less than thirty seconds into the second period, somehow Vladimir Tarasenko gets away on a breakaway but Tuukka Rask follows him all the way and makes the save and proceeds to make another one on the rebound attempt. The Blues continue the hard pressure early in the period and off of a poor Bruins line chance, O’Reilly is alone in front and beats Rask 55 seconds into the period. 1-0 Blues.
The Blues have put a lot more pressure on the Bruins in the second period so far but in the process, have engaged in poor hits that appear to have targeted the heads of Bruins. Most notable, Zach Sanford hits Krug up high with no call made on the ice whatsoever. Officials have not been great tonight and another instance is on display here.
At the 9:25 mark of the second, the officials finally call a penalty on the St. Louis Blues – an interference penalty on David Perron who knocked down David Pastrnak without the puck on his stick. The power-play was quite bad for Boston, failing to even enter the zone with consistency and when they did, not too many chances came as a result. Bruins now 0-for-2 on the man-advantage.
The St. Louis Blues have effectively shut down the Bruins from making good plays in this game as they did in Game Four. The strategy of throwing shots on Binnington in the first period has disappeared and Boston looks out of sorts late in the period. The fourth line has been by far the best line, again, with hustle from Nordstrom, Kuraly, and Acciari that is missing from the majority of Bruin forwards.
In the dying seconds, Krug turns the puck over on the breakout and gets into another wrestling match with Sundqvist. The non-call on Sundqvist leads to a wide-open net for Alex Pietrangelo but his shot gets blocked by David Krejci in the crease. Rask was on his stomach and was way out of position but Krejci keeps it a one-goal game at the end of 40 minutes.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 25 STL: 14
Score: 1-0 Blues – Goals: O’Reilly (6) Assists: Sanford (3), Pietrangelo (14)
Down by one goal in the final period, Bruins need something and something early and they nearly get just that. DeBrusk passes to Heinen and his drop pass misses DeBrusk but allows Steven Kampfer to unleash a rocket from the point – he does so, but the shot hits the corner of the post and crossbar. Kampfer stares at the ceiling in awe that it didn’t go in.
Boston ends up drawing a penalty a few shifts later as Krejci gets interfered with by Steen. The power-play had some passes around the umbrella format with some shots on goal by Krug and a near-redirect by Johansson but no dice. Bruins now 0-for-5 since on the power-play since going 4-for-4 in Game Three.
Seven minutes into the final period of play, the Bruins nearly get their first goal of the game, but after video review, it was shown that Krejci pushed the puck in by pushing the pad of Binnington and the game remains tied.
Then, it gets worse. On an offensive zone forecheck, Tyler Bozak clearly slewfoots Noel Acciari from behind him, sending Acciari flying back in pain. Now kneeled over on the ice, the Bruins are discombobulated and a broken play leads to David Perron tapping in a goal off of the inside of Rask’s pad, 2-0 Blues.
In response, Bruins fans proceed to throw debris on the ice and rain down heavy boos towards the officials. A horrendous missed call has put St. Louis up by two in the third period of play. Even with all of that, Boston does not get a power-play from the play and the game continues to be 5-on-5.
With all of the controversy and outrage, the Bruins are not quite done yet. Torey Krug does a great job to watch a puck that is teetering along the blueline to make sure it does not go offside, then takes the puck and makes a perfect pass to Jake DeBrusk who blasts a blistering shot far-side and past Jordan Binnington to make it a one-goal hockey game with around six minutes remaining. We have a hockey game.
In full desperation mode, the Boston Bruins are a mere inches away from a miraculous tying goal off of hard shots, close deflections and a whole slew of other chances by the B’s. All of the chances were kept out of the net and the Blues win 2-1, giving them a 3-2 series lead in the Cup Finals.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 39 STL: 21
Final Score: 2-1 Blues – 3-2 Series Lead
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: STL G Jordan Binnington – 38 Saves on 39 Shots, .974 SV%
2nd Star: STL F Ryan O’Reilly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 68% Faceoffs, 19:19 TOI
3rd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 25:26 TOI
The series now heads back to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Six. The Blues have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and eliminate the Bruins. Scheduled puck drop is 8:00pm EST on Sunday, June 9th.