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Page 1

STA N LEY CU P FI NA L EDIT ION

ThURSDAY • 05.30.2019 • $2.50

3

GAME 2

SERIES TIED 1-1

2

FINALS FIRST! OT win is first title-series victory in Blues history

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Blues celebrate after Carl Gunnarsson scored in ovetime of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final to beat Boston on Wednesday. The franchise had been 0-13 in Stanley Cup Final games.

GAME 1

Mon. at Boston Bos 0 2 2 — 4 1 10 — 2 Stl GWG: Kuraly

GAME 2

Wed. at Boston Stl 2 0 0 1 — 3 Bos 2 0 0 0 — 2 GWG: Gunnarsson

GAME 3 7 p.m. Saturday at Blues NBCSN

GAME 4 7 p.m. Monday at Blues KSDK (Ch.5)

GAME 5

7 p.m. Thursday 6/6 at Boston KSDK (Ch.5)

GAME 6* 7 p.m. Sunday 6/9 at Blues KSDK (Ch.5)

GAME 7*

7 p.m. Wednesday 6/12 at Boston KSDK (Ch.5)

* IF NECESSARY

Subscribe for every cold, icy detail at STLtoday.com/subscribenow TODAY’S COMPLETE NEWSPAPER INSIDE STANLEY CUP FINAL EDITION Vol. 141, No. 150 ©2019

1 M


STANLEY CUP FINAL

S2 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

3

GAME 2

SERIES TIED 1-1

M 1 • THUrSDAy • 05.30.2019

2

PHOTOS BY J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Blues’ Alexander Steen (20) and Jaden Schwartz tumble after colliding with Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask during the second period. Schwartz got a two-minute penalty for goalie interference.

GUNNARSSON GETS WINNER

His overtime goal gives Blues first Cup Final win BLUES 3, BRUINS 2, OT

BY JIM THOMAS St. Louis Post-Dispatch

S

Blues Boston

BOSTON

ome call him Boom-Boom. And defenseman Carl Gunnarsson put some “boom” in the Blues’ Stanley Cup push and took the air out of TD Garden. Gunnarsson’s first goal of these playoffs gave the Blues their first Cup playoff victory in history. It was a 3-2 victory at 3 minutes 51 seconds of overtime. The Blues came out buzzing in OT and Gunnarsson’s shot from not far inside the blueline with traffic in front off the Boston net has evened this series. The bounce-back Blues struck again Wednesday. Their Stanley Cup Final demise, roundly predicted as near certainty in some corners, was put on hold at TD Garden. The victory over the Boston Bruins squared the series at one game apiece. By now you should know what that means. The Blues have taken away home-ice advantage from the Bruins, with Games 3 and 4 in St. Louis starting with Saturday’s 7 p.m. contest at Enterprise Center. When informed Tuesday that Game 1 losers end up losing the Cup Final series 77 percent of the time, Vladimir Tarasenko told reporters: “This is on your side to tell some cool stats and everything else. But that’s not in our heads.” Well, here’s another cool stat to put in your head. Or not. Teams winning Game 2 have gone on to win the Cup 74.7 percent of the time since 1939 (when the best-of-seven format was introduced). So as Blues fans step back from the ledge once again, the Blues head home with momentum. They were 0-9 all-time against the Bruins in the playoffs before Wednesday, dating back to that four-game Boston sweep in the 1970 Stanley Cup and had been outscored 52-17 in those games. They won Wednesday without rookie Robert Thomas, scratched from the lineup with what’s believed to be a wrist injury. Coach Craig Berube said after the morning skate that Thomas’ absence was not related to the monster hit he absorbed from Torey Krug in Game 1. Robby Fabbri stepped in for Thomas, seeing his first action since Game 5 of the team’s Round 2 series against Dallas. In a wild first period, the Bruins beat goalie Jordan Binnington twice on shots through the 5-hole, but the Blues

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First Period Bos: Coyle 7 (Pastrnak, DeBrusk), 4:44 (pp) Blues: Bortuzzo 2 (Bozak, Gunnarsson), 9:37 Bos: Nordstrom 3 (Kuraly), 10:17 Blues: Tarasenko 10 (Schwartz), 14:55. Penalties: Blais, STL, (interference), 3:55; Sundqvist, STL, (boarding), 17:57. Second Period Penalties: Clifton, BOS, (interference), 3:34; Edmundson, STL, (tripping), 12:19; Clifton, BOS, major (high sticking), 15:39; Schwartz, STL, (interference), 17:56. Third Period Penalties: Schenn, STL, (slashing), 13:22. Overtime Blues: Gunnarsson 1 (Sundqvist, O’Reilly), 3:51. The Blues’ Pat Maroon gets into it with the Bruins’ David Backes during the first period of Game 2 on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston.

countered each time — on goals by first Robert Bortuzzo and then Tarasenko to tie the game 1-1 and then 2-2. An early penalty by Sammy Blais for crashing into goalie Tuukka Rask — it was an obvious call — led to Boston’s first goal. Two Blues took Jake DeBrusk in the corner below the goal line which was mistake No. 1. That let a void in the slot for Boston-area native Charlie Coyle to open the scoring 4 minutes 44 seconds into play. Oskar Sundqvist got there late for mistake No. 2. A still shot from television seemed to show that Boston had too many men on the ice just before the goal. A linesman was picking up a stick in the middle of the ice at the time instead of following the play. But the Blues didn’t sag, generating more than their share of zone time. Little less than five minutes later, Bortuzzo scored his second career postseason goal on a shot that deflected off Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and sailed high past Rask. (Bortuzzo’s first playoff goal was a memorable backhander to beat San Jose in Game 2 of that series.) But as was the case in Game 1, the Blues couldn’t stand prosperity. Once again, they allowed a goal a couple of shifts after scoring themselves. In Game 1, the Bruins scored 76 seconds after a Tarasenko goal made it 2-0 Blues, sparking the Bruins to a 4-2 comeback victory. On Wednesday, Boston got its third fourth-line goal of the series when Joakim Nordstrom beat Binnington

with a backhand just 40 seconds after Bortuzzo’s goal. So Boston retook the lead but not for long. Just 4½ minutes after the Nordstrom goal, Tarasenko eluded a Bruins defender to start a 2-on-1 break with Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz’s low shot hit Rask’s far pad and bounced to Tarasenko, whose first attempt was stopped. But Tarasenko stayed with the play, and before losing his balance beat Rask with a backhand. The goal with 5:05 left in the second was Tarasenko’s 10th of the playoffs, extending his careerhigh point streak to eight games. Tarasenko missed nearly 10 minutes at the start of the second period when he appeared to lose an edge and fell. It was unclear if he missed the time because of an injury or a skate repair. Boston defenseman Grzelcyk did not play in the second period after being on the receiving end of a boarding penalty against Sundqvist. After being called for five of the seven penalties in Game 1, it was more of the same in Game 2 for St. Louis. Through two periods Wednesday, the Blues had been called for four of the game’s six infractions. But unlike Game 1, all four of these were legit calls. Two were for goaltender interference when first Blais and then Schwartz slammed into Rask crashing the net on Blues scoring chances. Schwartz’s penalty wiped out the final 1:43 of what had been a four-minute high-sticking penalty against Boston’s Connor Clifton late in the second

Shots on Goal 10 14 Blues Boston 8 6

9 9

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Power-play Blues 0 of 3; Boston 1 of 5. Goaltenders Blues, Binnington 13-8 (23 shots-21 saves). Boston, Rask 13-6 (37-34). A: 17,565 (17,565). T—2:53. Referees: Gord Dwyer, Chris Rooney. Linesmen: Derek Amell, Scott Cherrey.

period. This was a rough-and-tumble hockey game − old school. The Blues had 33 hits in the opening two periods, as many as they’ve had in 96 of their previous 102 regular-season and postseason games. The Blues controlled the play for much of the third period, getting lots of offensive zone time and generating quality chances. But with 6:38 to play, the Blues were whistled for another penalty, this time slashing against Brayden Schenn. The Blues killed it off and the intensity picked up even more down the stretch. First, Patrice Bergeron was stopped point blank by Binnington. At the other end, Gunnarsson just missed putting the Blues on top when his shot hit the corner where the post and the crossbar meet. It was oh-so-close to going in. David Pastrnak countered with a wrist shot from in-close that Binnington turned away. Jim Thomas @jthom1 on Twitter jthomas@post-dispatch.com

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STANLEY CUP FINAL

S2 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

3

GAME 2

SERIES TIED 1-1

M 2 • THUrSDAy • 05.30.2019

2

PHOTOS BY J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask gets beat stickside on a Carl Gunnarrson shot Wednesday in overtime, a goal that evened the series heading into Saturday’s Game 3 in St. Louis.

GUNNARSSON GETS WINNER

His overtime goal gives Blues first Cup Final win BLUES 3, BRUINS 2, OT

BY JIM THOMAS St. Louis Post-Dispatch

S

Blues Boston

BOSTON

ome call him Boom-Boom, because he doesn’t exactly have the hardest shot around. “Tonight it was hard, so I’m happy about that,” said teammate and fellow Swede Oskar Sundqvist. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson had more than enough “boom” to silence TD Garden and give the Blues their first victory in a Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. His goal with 3 minutes 51 seconds gone in overtime gave the Blues a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins and send the best-of-seven series back to St. Louis tied 1-1. Game 3 is Saturday at Enterprise Center. “He’s been around for a long time,” Joel Edmundson said. “I think that was the biggest goal of his career and it couldn’t have come at a better time.” Mere minutes after the dramatic game-winner, the story behind the story leaked out. “Craig (Berube) said that he met him at the (urinal) after the third period,” Sundqvist said. “And Gunny said all I need is one more chance. So it worked out.” That it did. With just 1:57 left in regulation, Gunnarsson’s shot hit the corner of the net where the post and the crossbar meet. It came oh-so-close to going in. He made amends in overtime, shooting a one-timer from just inside the blueline through traffic and past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. It was the first goal in 56 career playoff games. And in this memorable Blues playoff run, it ranks right up there with Jaden Schwartz’s “lucky pinball” (as Winnpeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck called it) with 15 second left to win Game 5 against the Jets. Or Pat Maroon’s double-overtime Game 7 winner against Dallas. And Robert Bortuzzo’s game-winning backhand in Game 3 against San Jose. Gunnarsson, by the way, confirmed the “restroom” conversation with Berube. “I can’t deny that,” Gunnarsson said. “That’s where it happened. That makes it even more fun I guess. It’s a good story. “I was close in the third with the post and I had a little talk in the locker room between periods there - before the OT - and I just told him I needed one more,” Gunnarsson said. The Blues bounced back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie the game at 2-2 on goals by first Bortuzzo and then Vladi-

2 2

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First Period Bos: Coyle 7 (Pastrnak, DeBrusk), 4:44 (pp) Blues: Bortuzzo 2 (Bozak, Gunnarsson), 9:37 Bos: Nordstrom 3 (Kuraly), 10:17 Blues: Tarasenko 10 (Schwartz), 14:55. Penalties: Blais, STL, (interference), 3:55; Sundqvist, STL, (boarding), 17:57. Second Period Penalties: Clifton, BOS, (interference), 3:34; Edmundson, STL, (tripping), 12:19; Clifton, BOS, major (high sticking), 15:39; Schwartz, STL, (interference), 17:56. Third Period Penalties: Schenn, STL, (slashing), 13:22. Overtime Blues: Gunnarsson 1 (Sundqvist, O’Reilly), 3:51. Shots on Goal 10 14 Blues Boston 8 6 The Blues’ Carl Gunnarsson keeps the Bruins’ Marcus Johansson away from the net during the second period of Game 2 on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston.

mir Tarasenko. That all happened in the first period, and that was all the scoring until Gunnarsson’s game-winner which came as Boston was about to be called for tripping Alexander Steen on his way to the net. Ryan O’Reilly, who came on the ice after goalie Jordan Binnington left on the delayed penalty, got the primary assist. The Blues controlled most of the third period, wearing down the Bruins with a season-high 50 hits. Boston also got worn down on the back end, playing two periods-plus with only five defenseman after Matt Grzelcyk was injured after absorbing a check from Sundqvist along the boards with 2:03 left in the first. According to Bruce Cassidy Grzelcyk was sent to the hospital for tests and evaluation. Sundqvist was penalized for cross-checking on the play and declined to comment on the hit after the game. But David Backes, the former Blues captain and current Bruin, wasn’t shy about offering his opinion. “I don’t think that’s a hit we want in our game,” Backes said. “It’s from behind, elevated, into his head, into the glass. If that’s a two-minute penalty, I think there’s going to be a shortage of defensemen in this series by the end of it. “That’s in somebody else’s hands. That’s something I think if I’m making that hit, I’m probably watching from the bleachers for a few (games), but we’ll see

what happens with their player.” It was one of five penalties called against the Blues on Wednesday. They have been in the box 10 times so far in this series to five for the Bruins. But the Blues overcame that. They overcame the early Boston goals by Charlie Coyle and Joakim Nordstrom, and they came out breathing fire in the overtime session controlling the puck for much of sudden death. “We still had energy,” Edmundson said. “Our team did a good job of wearing them down throughout the 60 minutes (of regulation). We knew we had more energy than them going into the overtime, so we just laid it all on the line and we stuck to our game plan.” So the bounce-back Blues struck again Wednesday. Their Stanley Cup Final demise, roundly predicted as near certainty in some corners, was put on hold. The Blues have taken away home ice advantage from the Bruins. When informed Tuesday that Game 1 losers end up losing the Cup Final series 77 percent of the time, Tarasenko told reporters: “This is on your side to tell some cool stats and everything else. But that’s not in our heads.” Well, here’s another cool stat to put in your head. Or not. Teams winning Game 2 have gone on to win the Cup 74.7 percent of the time since 1939 (when the best-of-seven format was introduced.)

9 9

4 0

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37 23

Power-play Blues 0 of 3; Boston 1 of 5. Goaltenders Blues, Binnington 13-8 (23 shots-21 saves). Boston, Rask 13-6 (37-34). A: 17,565 (17,565). T—2:53. Referees: Gord Dwyer, Chris Rooney. Linesmen: Derek Amell, Scott Cherrey.

So as Blues fans step back from the ledge once again, the Blues head home with momentum. “It’s a great sports fanbase and a great sports city,” said Binnington, who stopped 21 of 23 shots. “They deserve it. We’re happy to play for them and we’re having fun doing it, playing together. We’re happy to go home and perform in front of them with them on our side.” St. Louis was 0-13 in Cup Final games until Wednesday. They also were 0-9 all-time against the Bruins in the playoffs, dating back to that four-game Boston sweep in the 1970 Stanley Cup and had been outscored 52-17 in those games. “It’s great. We’re not done yet, but it’s obviously pretty cool,” Edmundson said. “We just excited to go back to St. Louis with a 1-1 split.” They won Wednesday without rookie Robert Thomas, scratched from the lineup with what’s believed to be a wrist injury. Coach Craig Berube said after the morning skate that Thomas’ absence was not related to the monster hit he absorbed from Torey Krug in Game 1.

Subscribe for every cold, icy detail at STLtoday.com/subscribenow


05.30.2019 • Thursday • M 1

STANLEY CUP FINAL

sT. LOuIs POsT-dIsPaTCh • S3


STANLEY CUP FINAL

S4 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • THURSDAY • 05.30.2019

NOT SO FAST, BOSTON

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask gets beat stickside on a Carl Gunnarrson shot Wednesday in overtime, a goal that evened the series heading into Saturday’s Game 3 in St. Louis.

‘Gunny’ goal reminds that the Blues are not a team that rolls over BENJAMIN HOCHMAN St. Louis Post-Dispatch

T

BOSTON

he unbelievable makes the unbelievable believable. An overtime goal by Carl Gunnarsson has put the St. Louis Blues – and the St. Louis fans – three wins away from their first Stanley Cup championship. If anything, it gave them their first Stanley Cup Final win – 3-2 at Boston in overtime, as the fans in Section 151 in TD Garden suddenly started screaming, and as the arena emptied, the Blues fans continued to holler. We have a series. A win in the Stanley Cup Final is, in any capacity, big. It extends your season. Gets you closer to the Cup (or wins it for you). But to win on an overtime goal on the road? This is next-level, a win of an epic proprtion. A bone-chiller turned into a soulcrusher for the loser. And the loser, for a night, was Boston. The Blues travel back to St. Louis with home-ice advantage in what is now a best-of-five series. And in their smelly hockey bags and suave designer suitcases is a whole bunch of confidence. And now, Gunnarsson is a hero in St. Louis – at least for the next two weeks. And possibly forever. If the Blues win the Cup, it’ll be in the same conversation as Maroon scoring the double-overtime winner in Game 7 of the second round. Regardless of the outcome, this game showed that the Blues belong. There was a fear that this series was kaput after Game 1, after the blown two-goal lead, after the helmet-less Torey Krug smackdown on ice. But the Blues controlled the tempo for most of Game 2, and they overcame some infuriating calls to stay in it and go to overtime. “The city is going nuts right now,” Patrick Maroon said of St. Louis, his hometown, while here in Boston. “They’ve been waiting for so many years. They’ve had our backs. Hockey is really ramping up in St. Louis, and there’s nothing more that St. Louis would want. The fans deserve it. ... “It’s been a really fun journey for me to be a part of this, to put that sweater on every night. As a kid you dream of this your whole life. To come back home and play for the team you grew up watching – and actually live out your dream? – it’s a pretty cool moment for me. And not only for me, but for my dad – who’s been a season-ticket holder – and my mom, my family, my son. It’s been very special. A lot of highs, a lot of lows, and we’re getting through this together.” The playoffs are a weird world. You prepare and plan and practice so you can conquer the other team strategically. And

then, Robert Bortuzzo whips home a shot from a long-percentage angle toward the net and it bounces off a Boston stick and in, the Blues’ first goal. A goal that could change the trajectory of the game. The series. And such was the case in Game 2. This sport is weird sometimes. This sport is awesome, though, all the time. And then, if the Bortuzzo goal wasn’t improbable enough … Gunny. You could just feel it coming, couldn’t you? The Blues absolutely dominated the overtime, shot after shot, keeping the puck in the Boston zone and making the Bruins weary. Boston even committed a penalty, but nobody ended up going to the box. With the poise of veterans, the Blues kept possession and Gunnnarsson, of all players, unleashed a one-timer just inside the blueline for the glorious goal. A screen from Alex Pietrangelo kept Tuukka Rusk from getting a good look at it. With the win, the Blues are now 8-3 on the road this postseason, which is the most road wins in a single postseason in team history. And they were just the 18th team in NHL history to win at least seven of their first nine road games in a playoff year. And so much of that is because of the unafraid play of Vladimir Tarasenko, the fierce forward who scored in the first period Wednesday. The goal gave him an eight-game scoring streak, tying Gary Sabourin and another old player named Brett Hull for the second-longest streak in Blues playoff history. Also, for modern context, Tarasenko tied Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the longest streak in these 2019 playoffs. The record, of nine games, is from Tony Currie in 1981, the same season as Sabourin. Entering Game 2, goalie Jordan Binnington was 5-2 is playoff games after losses, and in those seven games, he had a 1.84 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage. Well, he was stellar again. This team is amazing. This team is something. This team is on to something, with a fourth-string goalie playing better than maybe any goalie to ever wear the Bluenote. They surely played “Gloria” back in St. Louis. And they’re getting ready to on Saturday. But not before Game 3. That was originally the plan announced on Wednesday – that singer Kennedy Holmes would lead fans in a sing-along outside the stadium. But as word spread on social media, so did anger.“Gloria,” after all, is the Blues’ victory song. And in a sport in which jinxs and superstitions are just part of the game, fans tweeted that a pre-game “Gloria” singing would be premature. And so, the NHL announced late Wednesday that Saturday’s sing-along wouldn’t happen … unless the Blues win Game 3. Benjamin Hochman @hochman on Twitter bhochman@post-dispatch.com

LET’S GO

BLUES

TEAM PHYSICIANS for the ST. LOUIS BLUES and YOU


STANLEY CUP FINAL

S4 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 2 • THURSDAY • 05.30.2019

WORTH WATCHING

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Blues’ Alexander Steen (20) and Jaden Schwartz tumble after colliding with Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask during the second period. Schwartz got a two-minute penalty for goalie interference.

‘Gunny’ goal will live in lore, even though original Blue couldn’t stand to watch it BENJAMIN HOCHMAN St. Louis Post-Dispatch

B

BOSTON

obby Plager was here to see it,but he didn’t see it. The old Blue famously doesn’t watch the game, nerves and all, and instead just paces, listening for clues. And on the ninth level of TD Garden, where you’re eye level with the 1970 Stanley Cup Champions banner, the original Blue suddenly heard a cheer.He knew right then, because it was loud – but not that loud. So Plager, 76, promptly looked up at a nearby TV, and “because of the 10-second delay, it was like watching it live.” Carl Gunnarsson, of all Blues, scored his first playoff goal to win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. In overtime. In Boston. The unbelievable makes the unbelievable believable – the Blues are back in this thing, the series tied 1-1. There was a time that one wondered if Plager lived forever, would he even then see the Blues win a game in the Stanley Cup Final? The Blues were 0-for-12, the last loss to the soaring Bobby Orr in 1970. And then, the Blues blew Game 1 in this series to make it zero for 13. But on Wednesday night, for the first time ever, the St. Louis Blues won a game in the Stanley Cup Final. “That’s pretty cool if you think about it that way,” Gunnarsson said. “Pretty sure we’re not going to stop here.” The Blues won this by being the Blues. Or, by being the Bruins from Game 1. The Blues dominated all night with a relentless forecheck and a dedication to team. Sure, Robert Thomas was out with an injury. Sure, the Bruins scored the first goal of the game. Sure, the Blues again made five penalties. But they won as a team – as absolutely cheesy as that sounds, it was Wednesday’s reality. And how better to describe it than having the goal scorers be superstar Vladimir Tarasenko …and thirdline defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and the hero “Boom Boom” Gunnarsson? To Plager, who has been part of the organization since the organization became an organization, there is something noble about the sacrifice of a defenseman. That’s the way he played, heart thumping with blue blood, drawing a bunch of red blood from Red Wings or Blackhawks. And asked about the commitment to team that he sees in Gunnarsson, Plager said: “He’s a player you don’t hear much of – but you know, he’s very dependable. You can play him with any player. He’s a defensive, stay-at-home guy – doesn’t hurt you. And he’ll help out the other guys, he’ll play defense and let them go. And tonight,

he was rewarded for what he does.” A win in the Stanley Cup Final is, in any capacity, big. It extends your season. Gets you closer to the Cup (or wins it for you). But to win on an overtime goal on the road? This is next-level, a win of an epic proportion. A bone-chiller turned into a soulcrusher for the loser. And the loser, for a night, was Boston. The Blues travel back to St. Louis with home-ice advantage in what now is a best-of-five series. And in their smelly hockey bags and suave designer suitcases is a whole bunch of confidence. And now, Gunnarsson is a hero – at least for the next two weeks. And, possibly, forever. If the Blues win the Cup, it’ll be in the same conversation as Patrick Maroon scoring the double-overtime winner in Game 7 of the second round. Legends from Oakville and Örebro, Sweden. “The city is going nuts right now,” Maroon said while here in Boston, a city that so often beats up on his hometown. “They’ve been waiting for so many years. They’ve had our backs. Hockey is really ramping up in St. Louis, and there’s nothing more that St. Louis would want. The fans deserve it. ... “It’s been a really fun journey for me to be a part of this, to put that sweater on every night. As a kid you dream of this your whole life. To come back home and play for the team you grew up watching – and actually live out your dream? – it’s a pretty cool moment for me. And not only for me, but for my dad – who’s been a season-ticket holder – and my mom, my family, my son. It’s been very special. A lot of highs, a lot of lows, and we’re getting through this together.” The playoffs are a weird world. You prepare and plan and practice so you can conquer the other team strategically. And then, Robert Bortuzzo whips home a shot from a long-percentage angle toward the net and it bounces off a Boston stick and in. A goal that could change the trajectory of the game. The series. And such was the case in Game 2. And then, if the Bortuzzo goal wasn’t improbable enough … Boom Boom? You could just feel it coming, couldn’t you? The Blues absolutely dominated the overtime, shot after shot, keeping the puck in the Boston zone and making the Bruins weary. Boston even committed a penalty, but nobody ended up going to the box. With the poise of veterans, the Blues kept possession and Gunnarsson, of all players, unleashed a one-timer just inside the blueline for the glorious goal. “This is so big – what’s going on for the last month,” Plager said. “We’ve been underdogs in every series, winning on the road, winning in the seventh game. That’s city, it’s going crazy.” Benjamin Hochman @hochman on Twitter bhochman@post-dispatch.com

LET’S GO

BLUES

TEAM PHYSICIANS for the ST. LOUIS BLUES and YOU


STANLEY CUP FINAL

05.30.2019 • THURSDAY • M 1

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S5

AN OLD-STYLE BRUISING

Blues hit hard in throwback victory keyed by Gunnarsson’s KO punch BEN FREDERICKSON St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A

BOSTON

fter Bruins defenseman Torey Krug knocked Blues rookie Robert Thomas into the press box, Boston puffed up its chest and said it could play physical if that’s how the Blues wanted to handle this Stanley Cup Final. “If you want to punch us in the mouth, look us in the eye, we are willing to do that as well,” Krug said as Beantown media turned his flying hit in the series opener into Bobby Orr’s Leap 2.0. The Bruins might want to rethink that challenge. Carl Gunnarsson, the defenseman they call ‘Boom Boom’, landed the knockout punch in the Blues’ 3-2 overtime winner in Game 2 that required a mouth guard just to watch. Gunnarsson’s first goal of the postseason, a one-timer ripped from just inside the blue line, came 3:51 into the overtime period of a game the Blues earned from the jump. Wednesday night’s game had it all. Massive hits? Check. The Blues bruised the Bruins 45 hits to 31, with some teeth-chattering blows delivered along the way. None was bigger than Oskar Sundqvist’s smash of defenseman Matt Grzelcyk into the glass. Extra-curricular smack talk and love taps? You bet. Pat Maroon vs. Brad Marchand was a master’s class in trash. Beautiful hockey? So much of it. See Vladimir Tarasenko defying the laws of physics as he backhanded home a rebound of his own shot, somehow lifting the puck up above stunned Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask as Tarasenko’s momentum carried him in the opposite direction of the loose puck. But more than anything, this was a throwback, a tribute to the old school. It was grown man’s hockey played as hard as the late May ice at TD Garden is soft. It deserved an encore, and it got one, becoming the first Stanley Cup Final game to reach overtime since 2016. The importance is immeasurable. If you thought the projections were bad for teams that fall behind 1-0 in this series, check out the numbers on teams that fall behind 2-0. Now forget those digits. The Blues have won their first Stanley Cup Final game. Anything is possible.

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Bruins’ Charlie Coyle (center) takes exception to a hit by the Blues’ Pat Maroon (right) in the first period Wednesday night in Boston.

That sellout crowd back home at Enterprise Center for games not played there is about to welcome its team back home with a wall of noise. The Blues were not perfect. There were some silly penalties, a four-minute power-play cut in half because Jaden Schwartz could not keep from running into Rask, and some prime shots missed. But compared to Game 1, this was a massive step in the right direction for the Blues, and not just because of the win. They passed better, played crisper and did a much better job keeping the puck in their zone. They did not let up one bit on the physicality Boston thought it wanted. They did not get flustered when more calls went against them. Thanks to the help of a graphic flashed by the NBC Sports broadcast, it appeared the on-ice officials missed an extra Bruins player on the ice during Boston’s first-period power play goal. The Blues killed the four Boston power plays that followed. They have now nixed eight of Boston’s 10 in this series. Pretty good. Gunnarsson was not the only surprise hero. He would not have had the chance

to be one if fellow Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo had not stunned everyone, including perhaps himself, with a first period slapshot that tied the game. The closest the Blues looked to breaking was moments after Joakim Nordstrom kicked Sean Kuraly’s pass to himself and beat Jordan Binnington fivehole moments in the first period after the Blues knotted the game. A terrible breakdown served up the score. Perron’s poor pass to Pietrangelo set it up. Kuraly jumped Pietrangelo’s rushed pass. Nordstrom finished the no-doubter with ease. Blues coach Craig Berube tore into his team on the bench. How would they respond? Binnington, after being beaten fivehole twice, did not crack again. His teammates tightened. Tarasenko, playing hurt and playing like a man possessed, burned up the boards and found Schwartz, then jumped all over Schwartz’s rebound until he scored. In the biggest games of his life, he’s playing his best. All of this, and it was just time for the

second period. You felt the same way after a bruising second period and a nail-biting third. In every phase, the Blues outplayed the Bruins. They worked harder, hit harder, looked better. They deserved to win. That doesn’t mean you do. Then ‘Boom Boom’ punched through. This trip to Boston has not been welcoming to the Blues. Berube was stopped on his way to the series-opening news conference and asked to present a credential. Blues alum Barret Jackman was pulled off of an elevator to make room for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Heck, one of the cameramen from a St. Louis television station was welcomed to his hotel room by a rat in his toilet, and we are not talking about the nickname that belongs to ankle-biting super pest Marchand. In a hostile territory, the Blues made history. They are headed home closer than they have ever been. Anything is possible now.

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STANLEY CUP FINAL

05.30.2019 • THURSDAY • M 2

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • S5

AN OLD-STYLE BRUISING

Blues hit hard in throwback victory finished by Gunnarsson’s KO punch BEN FREDERICKSON St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A

BOSTON

fter Bruins defenseman Torey Krug knocked Blues rookie Robert Thomas into the TD Garden press box, Boston made it more than clear this Stanley Cup Final could become as physically punishing as the Blues desire. “If you want to punch us in the mouth, look us in the eye, we are willing to do that as well,” Krug said as Beantown media turned his flying hit in the series opener into Bobby Orr’s Leap 2.0. Teams from this area tend to struggle with proper inflation. The Bruins might have put a little too much air in their chest before Wednesday night’s slugfest. Carl Gunnarsson, the defenseman they call ‘Boom Boom’, landed the knockout punch in a Game 2 that required a mouth guard just to watch. Down goes Boston. Anything is possible now. Gunnarsson’s first goal of the postseason, a one-timer ripped from just inside the blue line, came 3:51 into the overtime period the Blues swarmed until they won 3-2. They out-shot the Bruins four to none in OT. St. Louis had more left, and it showed. The Blues’ first win in a Stanley Cup Final game is history, and this game was deserving of its place on forever’s shelf. Massive hits? Check. The Blues bruised with 45 hits, totaling 14 more than the Bruins in a devastating display. None were bigger than Oskar Sundqvist’s secondperiod smash of Matt Grzelcyk. Boston’s defenseman, like Thomas, is now a question mark moving forward. This is no series for the squeamish. Extracurricular smack talk and love taps? You bet. The Blues’ Pat Maroon vs. the Bruins’ Brad Marchand was a master’s class in trash. After a second period that left bodies littered across the ice, Marchand lingered as Maroon complained to an official. Was he waving? No, Marchand was mimicking a crying motion to Maroon. Mind-bending goals? Indeed. See Vladimir Tarasenko defying the laws of physics as he backhanded home a rebound of his own shot, somehow lifting the puck above stunned Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask as momentum carried him the opposite way from his move. But more than anything, this win, one

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Bruins’ Charlie Coyle (center) takes exception to a hit by the Blues’ Pat Maroon (right) in the first period Wednesday night in Boston.

that will be remembered because of its place in history, was a tribute to history. It was a throwback. It was grown man’s hockey, played as hard as the late May ice at TD Garden is soft. It deserved an encore, and it got one, becoming the first Stanley Cup Final game to reach overtime since 2016. The importance is immeasurable. If you thought the projections were bad for teams that lose the first game of a Stanley Cup Final, check out the record of teams that fall behind 0-2. Since 1939, they have rallied to win five of 51 times. Now, forget those digits. The Blues have won their first Stanley Cup Final game. This series is tied after two games on the road. An Enterprise Center that sold out for games not played there is about to welcome back its team with a wall of noise. The Blues were not perfect Wednesday. There were some silly penalties, and a four-minute power-play cut in half because Jaden Schwartz could not keep from skating into Rask. But compared to the Blues’ 4-2 loss in Game 1, this was a massive step in the right direction. The Blues passed better, played crisper and did a much better job keeping the puck in their zone. They gave Boston more physicality than Bos-

ton thought it wanted. They refused to let questionable calls become a stick in their spokes. Thanks to the help of a graphic flashed (oh so briefly) on the TV broadcast, it appeared that the on-ice officials missed a second or two of the Bruins having too many men on the ice as they moved toward their first-period power-play goal. No sweat. The Blues killed the four Boston power plays that followed. They have now nixed eight of Boston’s 10 in this series. Not bad, considering Boston’s power play has been the postseason’s best. There have been odes written about the Bruins’ depth, but the Blues are far from shallow. Before Gunnarsson became the 19th Blue to score this postseason, Robert Bortuzzo’s surprise first-period slapshot made him the 13th Blue to score more than once. The closest the Blues looked to breaking Wednesday came moments after Joakim Nordstrom kicked Sean Kuraly’s pass to himself and beat Blues goalie Jordan Binnington less than a minute after Bortuzzo’s game-tying goal. Boston led 2-1. Binnington had been beaten twice between the legs. Defensive breakdowns led to both. Blues coach Craig Berube tore into his team. How would the players respond?

Binnington stopped every shot that followed, saving 21 of the 23 on the night. The defense in front of him tightened. Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko, playing like a man possessed, burned up the boards, found Schwartz, then attacked the rebound until TD Garden fell silent. In the biggest games of his life, No. 91 is reaching a new level. It took all of this just to tie. Two tense, scoreless periods passed. In every phase, the Blues had outplayed the Bruins. They worked harder, hit heavier and just looked more deserving of a win. That doesn’t mean you do. Then ‘Boom Boom’ punched through. This trip to Boston has not been welcoming to the Blues. Berube was stopped on his way to the series-opening news conference and asked to present a credential. Blues alum Barret Jackman was pulled off of an elevator to make room for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Heck, one of the cameramen from a St. Louis television station was welcomed to his hotel room by a rat in the toilet, and we are not talking about the nickname that belongs to ankle-biting super pest Marchand. In hostile territory, these remarkable Blues made history. Anything is possible now.

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STANLEY CUP FINAL

S6 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • THUrSDAy • 05.30.2019

SCENES FROM GAME 2

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Vladimir Tarasenko extends his goal streak to four games with this second-chance backhander against Zdeno Chara (33) and goalie Tuukka Rask.

LAURIE SKRIVAN • lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Kyle Frink,19, of St. Charles cheers after Vladimir Tarasenko tied the game 2-2 in the first period. Frink was among another big crowd at Enterprise Center watching the game on the Jumbotron.

LAURIE SKRIVAN • lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Susan Evans of Olivette reacts after Charlie Coyle of Boston scored. Coyle’s goal was the first in a 2-2 opening period, and the game was scoreless from there until Carl Gunnarsson won it in overtime.

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Blues players Alex Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen mix it up with David Backes during the first period at TD Garden in Boston.

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Boston’s David Backes upends Sammy Blais in what was a hard-hitting Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

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S6 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

STANLEY CUP FINAL

M 2 • THUrSDAy • 05.30.2019

SCENES FROM GAME 2

LAURIE SKRIVAN • lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

“This is as close to heaven as I have ever been,” said longtime fan favorite Ron Baechle aka “The Towel Man” as he leads the crowd at the Enterprise Center in a victory cheer after the Blues beat the Bruins in Game 2.

LAURIE SKRIVAN • lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Usher Tom Maddox high-fives fans in the corridor at the Enterprise Center as they celebrate after the Blues won to even the Stanley Cup Final at 1-1.

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Patrick Maroon gives Carl Gunnarsson a big hug after his goal gave the Blues their first win ever in the Stanley Cup Final.

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Bruins’ Charlie Coyle (left) tries to wrap the puck around in front but Blues goalie Jordan Binnington makes the stop during the second period of Game 2.

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ST. LOUIS BLUES 2019 STANLEY CUP FINAL SIGNATURE TICKET $59.99

CHECK OUT MORE BLUES GEAR AT

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STANLEY CUP FINAL

05.30.2019 • Thursday • M 1

sT. LOuIs POsT-dIsPaTCh • S7

NOTEBOOK

THOMAS MISSES GAME 2

Berube says hit by Bruins’ Krug is not reason for forward’s absence man up in case of an injury. There’s a bit of sadness that has followed Sanford to the Stanley Cup Final. His father, Michael, died in September, on the day after the Blues’ first preseason game and can’t share this moment with Zach. “It’s still a little different, obviously,” Sanford said. “It would have been nice to have him be here and be part of this. He would have been at every game, I’m sure, even without me playing. He’s watching still, obviously. I like to think he’s helped us get here a little bit.”

BY TOM TIMMERMANN st. Louis Post-dispatch

BOSTON • Rookie forward

Robert Thomas missed Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday, though just why isn’t clear. The obvious reason is that Thomas got rocked by Boston’s Torey Krug in the third period of Game 1, when Krug, emerging from a wrestling match with David Perron in front of the Bruins goal, skated the length of the ice but couldn’t get to Perron before he got to the bench, so instead set his sights on Thomas, who he sent flying. Thomas did not return to action after that, missing the final 10½ minutes of the game. Blues coach Craig Berube said the hit was not the reason Thomas missed the game. Berube said on Tuesday that Thomas was OK, but said Wednesday that he had decided Tuesday that Thomas would not play. If it wasn’t the hit that knocked Thomas out of the game, then it’s something else. (Berube confirmed Thomas was hurt.) Thomas has had a lingering injury, believed to be to his wrist, and hasn’t practiced or taken part in morning skates for two weeks. But while he has missed practices, he hasn’t missed a game. In 20 playoffs games this season, Thomas, still a teenager, has one goal and five assists. With Thomas out, Robby Fabbri moved into his spot on the third line with center Tyler Bozak and winger Pat Maroon. Fabbri last played in Game 5 of the Dallas series and has one goal in eight playoff games coming into Game 2. The Blues have gotten through the playoffs fairly unscathed. In the nearly two months of the playoffs, besides Thomas, the Blues have been without defenseman Vince Dunn for five games (and counting) after he was hit by a puck in Game 3 of the San Jose

DANCING IN THE STREETS

J.B. FORBES • jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Blues forward Robby Fabbri slams the Bruins’ Connor Clifton into the boards during the first period of a physic al Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.

series, and Carl Gunnarsson missed a game at the start of the San Jose series. It looked as if Dunn might be able to get back into action in Game 2, but the Blues chose to hold him out again. He’s been practicing regularly with the team and looks about ready to return.

SANFORD’S HOME

Blues forward Zach Sanford grew up a Bruins fan in nearby

Salem, Mass., and played collegiately at Boston College, so he’s no stranger to TD Garden and its surroundings. “It’s pretty weird,” he said. “It’s cool though. Most of the time you dream of playing for your (home) team, but I think it might be even a little better to play against them. It’s pretty cool, coming back here in familiar spots, familiar places, and being able to be part of the finals in itself is pretty cool.”

Sanford played two season at BC, and each year he played at the Garden during the annual Beanpot Tournament, which pits BC, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern. In the postseason, Sanford played in the first three games of the Winnipeg series but then was replaced, first by Fabbri, who was then replaced by Sammy Blais. Sanford took the ice in pregame warmups and is presumably the next

The Blues and the NHL will host a music and viewing party on Market Street downtown before Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, respectively. Before Game 3, Kennedy Holmes, a finalist on “The Voice,” was originally scheduled to lead a sing-along of the Blues victory anthem, “Gloria,” but after outcry from Blues fans that singing the song before a win rather than after it would jinx the proceedings (Alexander Steen would probably call it bad mojo), the league canceled it and said it would happen after the game if they won. Additional performers for Game 3 will be announced later, the league said. On Monday, Grammy Award-winning Gary Clark Jr. will perform before Game 4. The party will take place on Market between Tucker and 14th. The events will be open to fans at 3 p.m. After the performances, fans can stay and watch Games 3 and 4 on giant TV screens.

FLAG WAVER

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick served as the “fan banner captain” before the game, waving a Bruins banner from seats near the glass before the game. Boston fans liked it.

Here’s to

bleeding blue

Raise a GLass TO YOUR HOMeTOWN FaVORiTes

D R IN K R E S P O N S IB LY

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STANLEY CUP FINAL

M 1 • THUrSDAy • 05.30.2019

M A RY V I L L E . M A N Y CO N N E CT I O N S . O N E U.

S8 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

FROM PLAYI NG THE GAME TO MANAGI NG I T Even if you’re no longer an athlete, you can still go pro. In the Rawlings Sport Business Management Program at Maryville University, you’ll study management, finance, marketing, operations, and communications. Everything needed to get you ready for the big game in the business of sports. To learn more, visit maryville.edu or call 800.627.9855. Maryville University is proud to support the St. Louis Blues and congratulates them on advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. LET’ S GO BLUES!

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