St. Louis was ready to celebrate its first Stanley Cup Final game on home ice in 49 years. The Blues didn’t cooperate.
The Blues were the worst team in the NHL for the first part of the season and they looked very much like that team Saturday night in a 7-2 loss that left them trailing the Boston Bruins 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final.
A boisterous crowd that included actors and St. Louis natives Jon Hamm and Jenna Fischer and a number of NFL players were on hand to cheer on the Blues, enjoying some limelight in a city more familiar with celebrating baseball’s storied Cardinals or, not all that long ago, the now-departed Rams from the NFL.
The Blues outshot the Bruins 6-0 in the first six minutes and then it was all Boston. The Bruins scored four straight goals, including three in the opening period, and were well on their way to a rout. It is a another disappointing performance on home ice for St. Louis, which fell to 5-6 this postseason as the host while boasting an 8-3 road record.
“I think they (the fans) deserved a better game,” Blues center Ryan O’Reilly said. “It’s disappointing and not what we wanted. But I think they’ve been patient all year for us and they’ll be with us the next game.”
Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a power play goal midway through the first period. Boston scored on all four power plays in the game and improved to 6 for 14 with the man advantage in the series.
“We’ve got to stay out of the box even more,” said Blues left winger David Perron, who took the penalty that led to the goal. “The Bruins did a good job and we can’t give them life that way. They have a good power play, we knew that, and they capitalized tonight.”
Charlie Coyle made it 2-0 late in the first, but the back-breaker was Sean Kuraly’s goal at 19:50. The Blues challenged the call and though replay appeared to show Joakim Nordstrom’s skate entering the zone ahead of the puck, the goal stood and the Bruins got a power play, which they converted 41 seconds into the second period to make it 4-0.
Jordan Binnington was pulled for the first time in his career after Torey Krug scored on the power play at 12:12 of the second period. Binnington allowed five goals on 19 shots and was replaced by Jake Allen, who made his first appearance since April 3.
Binnington is 5-2 this postseason following a loss. The 25-year-old rookie was not fazed by the benching and he is expected back in the net for Game 4 Monday night.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final and a lot to play for obviously, but at the same time just play the same way and stay with our game and believe in your teammates and believe in yourself,” Binnington said.
Colton Parayko scored a power play goal at 5:24 of the third, snapping an 0 for 8 with the man advantage for the Blues in the series. But it was far too little, too late as Boston scored twice in the final two minutes to complete the blowout.
The Blues have come back from adversity before, starting with climbing out of the league cellar on Jan. 3 and overcoming a loss in Game 3 in the Western Conference final to San Jose on an uncalled illegal hand pass that led directly to an overtime goal. They’ll have to do it again.
“I think we’re confident we will tie the series up,” O’Reilly said. “That’s our mindset. We still have to talk about a few things, make the adjustments. But we’re a good team in here. It was a bad game by us. We didn’t do what we wanted, but we’re confident we can turn this thing around.”
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