Some chances only come around every 50-something years.
Ought to take them.
With Gloria queued up, thousands on hand to celebrate in the streets, champagne on ice (did it reach ice?) and the Stanley Cup in the building, the St. Louis Blues surrendered their first, and for these playoffs, last opportunity to capture the franchise’s first-ever championship inside their own rink, and to share with their tormented fans.
Save for the torment, the same chance now rests with the Boston Bruins. Powered by 28 saves from Tuukka Rask, Boston submitted a brilliant road performance and secured the 5-1 victory with a four-goal outburst in the third period.
The final score doesn’t really reflect the shift-to-shift performance from both sides in Game 6, more the misery after the Blues’ wasted opportunity.
St. Louis’s heavy, high-possession, zone-control style that it has used to pick off opponents throughout these playoffs was apparent early — even for just a brief spell after Brad Marchand opened the scoring early when he hammered a one-time shot over the shoulder of Jordan Binnington with a look on the weak side.
But despite the Blues’ ownership of the puck, they were unable to manufacture any meaningful offence while the game hung in the balance, their attack bordering on anemic before wilting down the stretch.
Everything that could impede their progress toward goal seemed to have an impact in Game 6 — including what seemed like poor ice conditions. Ironically, it was a gnarly bounce in front of Binnington that really sucked the life out of the arena, as well as the intent from the Blues as they pressed in the third period for an equalizer. A weak point shot from Brandon Carlo handcuffed the rookie goaltender, and bounced through his padding to open up a two-goal advantage that immediately seemed insurmountable.
Frustrated already, and temporarily reeling after falling behind by two, the Bruins soon put the game out of reach on a goal from Karson Kuhlman.
To execute a near-perfect road game as the Bruins did, the night required a superb performance. Rask delivered that and more.
Improving his save percentage to .973 in Boston’s five elimination games in the playoffs, the Bruins netminder has cemented his case for the Conn Smythe Trophy — perhaps even if the Bruins come up short Wednesday night in Game 7.
Fittingly, his only blemish in the do-or-die clash was actually a brilliant save. It was just made apparent over video review that Ryan O’Reilly’s shot crossed the goal line before Rask kicked it out.
It’s usually a dream scenario for hockey fans: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
But for the casual observer, St. Louis’s chance to win its first-ever Stanley Cup, at home, in its return to the Final after 49 years, after sitting dead last in the NHL in early January, represented the most desirable conclusion to this postseason.
You have to figure for a team like Boston, which is experienced as it is talented, and which wears that enemy label with pride, that such reality might work in their favour.
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