Blues 2 Bruins 1
(St. Louis leads series 3-2)
BOSTON —The Blues moved to within one win of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup with a 2-1 win over Boston in Game 5 on Thursday at TD Garden.
The Blues will have a chance to take the trophy that has eluded them since they came into the league in 1967 on Sunday night at Enterprise Center. If they don’t win there, they’ll have a second chance in Game 7 on Wednesday in Boston in Game 7.
A goal by Ryan O’Reilly put the Blues up 1-0 in the second period and a goal by David Perron with 9:24 to go in the third made it 2-0. That goal was protested by the Bruins and angered the fans, who threw water bottles and towels on the ice. The play was set in motion when Tyler Bozak got the puck back by taking the legs out from under Noel Acciari, and with Acciari down on the ice, Perron was able to score the insurance goal, banking it in off of goalie Tuukka Rask. There was fairly universal agreement that it was a trip, but the referees didn’t call it.
That goal loomed large. Boston pulled within a goal with 6:28 to go when Jake DeBrusk scored on a slapshot after Torey Krug took the puck from Oskar Sundqvist as he tried to get the puck out of the Bruins zone. Sundqvist was going to be called for a high stick, but DeBrusk scored on the delayed penalty.
O’Reilly finished off another slick pass from Zach Sanford to put the Blues up 1-0 after two periods.
O’Reilly, who had two goals in Game 4, took a pass from Sanford that not only went between Sanford’s legs, but between defender Charlie McAvoy’s as well. O’Reilly needed one touch to control the puck and then put a backhander past Rask. It was the sixth goal of the postseason for O’Reilly.
With the series tied at two games apiece, the winner of Game 5 will be one win away from winning the Stanley Cup.
Sanford, who went back into the lineup when Sundqvist was suspended for Game 3 for his hit on Matt Grzelcyk, has a point in each of those games. It’s another case of a move by coach Craig Berube producing valuable results.
The Blues had to kill another penalty when Perron was called for interference, and they did it. Boston has a 25-14 edge in shots on goal after two periods, but Jordan Binnington has remained perfect.
The Blues almost made it 2-0 in the closing seconds of the period, but Boston’s David Krejci got behind Rask, who was out of the net, and blocked a shot by Alex Pietrangelo.
The return of Zdeno Chara gave the Bruins an energy boost from the start and the return of the team’s captain helped them control the action for much of the first period, but couldn’t produce a goal and the teams were even at 0 after one period.
The Bruins outshot the Blues 17-8 in the period and the Blues had just five shots on goal before getting a power play with 2:38 to go in the period. The Bruins had a 27-14 edge in shot attempts.
Binnington had his work cut out for him in goal and he made some sharp saves to keep the Bruins off the board. He also got help from the goal frame, as Brad Marchand hit a post with just under five minutes to go.
Chara’s status for the game was uncertain, but he took the ice in pregame warmups and was deemed fit enough to play. Just to be safe, the Bruins dressed seven defensemen and only 11 forwards, scratching former Blues captain David Backes.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy put Chara in the starting lineup and he got a massive ovation when he was introduced before the game. Chara took a puck to the face in Game 4 and didn’t finish the game, with what was reported in several places to be a broken jaw. The return of the team’s captain and spiritual leader spurred on the team, who went at the Blues right from the start. Through two periods, Chara played 12:10 and had four hits, two shots on goal and he blocked three shots.
Each team had a power play in the first period, with Vince Dunn being sent off delay of game and Marchand going off for slashing. On the Blues’ power play, their best chance came on a shot by Perron that Rask blocked with his stick.