By the end of Sunday night, the hope in St. Louis was that the Enterprise Center would be rocking with the celebration of the St. Louis Blues’ first Stanley Cup.
Instead, the Enterprise Center was quite quiet as the Boston Bruins put the finishing touches on a 5-1 victory that extended the Stanley Cup Final to seven games and put the Blues’ possible celebration on hold.
Boston goalie Tuukka Rask was at his best in this one, making saves on 28 of 29 St. Louis shots and completely taking the life out of the Blues’ offense.
Rask hasn’t lost three straight starts this season — Game 6 would have been a third straight loss — and is 3-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average in elimination games during this postseason.
The series now shifts to Boston for Game 7 on Wednesday night in a winner-take-all contest for the Stanley Cup.
St. Louis rookie goalie Jordan Binnington was solid in the early going of Game 6, giving up a single goal in the first two periods. Brad Marchand tallied his ninth of the postseason on a 5-on-3 advantage for the Bruins midway through the first period. Boston improved to 25-1 in postseason games that Marchand scores a goal.
But things changed in the third, as the Bruins picked up their pressure, firing shots at Binnington to really put the pressure on him to keep the Blues close.
Brandon Carlo’s shot from near the blue line bounced up and over Binnington for the Bruins’ second goal just 2:31 into the third to make it 2-0. Rookie Karson Kuhlman tallied his first of the playoffs midway through the third to push the advantage to 3-0 and all but take the life out of St. Louis.
But the Blues got a bit of new life when replay showed that Ryan O’Reilly’s shot had crossed the goal line with eight minutes to play, cutting the deficit to 3-1. It was O’Reilly’s seventh goal of the postseason and fourth in the last three contests.
Boston didn’t let that momentum last long, though, as David Pastrnak scored with just under six minutes to play to push the advantage back to three, then Zdeno Chara finished up the third-period onslaught with an empty-net goal with just under three minutes to play.
Binnington finished with 27 saves, but it wasn’t enough, as the Blues couldn’t cash in on their offensive opportunities against Rask. St. Louis had four power-play opportunities in the contest but couldn’t score on any of them, making it 1-for-18 with a man advantage in the Final.
The series moves to Boston for the 17th Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final, but the first ever held in Beantown. The Bruins won the last Game 7 played in the Stanley Cup Final, defeating Vancouver on the road in 2011.
St. Louis has already won two games in Boston in this series and will be boosted by the return of forward Ivan Barbashev, who was suspended for Game 6 for an illegal check in Game 5.