Bruins strike first
The Boston Bruins struck the first blow in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-2 victory over the St Louis Blues in Game One on Monday night.
The Bruins were the favourites with sports betting companies going into the game, but they took a while to shake off the cobwebs following a ten-day lay-off and had to come from behind to beat St Louis, with Sean Kuraly getting the game-winning goal at 5:21 in the third. Connor Clifton, Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand were also on the mark for Boston, while Tuukka Rask made 18 saves.
St Louis, who beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals, started stronger than their opponents and took the lead at 7:23 in the first period through Brayden Schenn, who also finished the game with an assist. That lead was extended when Vladimir Tarasenko made it 2-0 just a minute into the second period, extending his run of point-scoring to nine in seven games and leaving Boston with plenty of work to do in front of their home crowd.
However, after a sluggish first period, the Bruins raised their game. They outshot their opponents 18-3 in the second period and 30-12 over the last two periods combined, and they were soon back in the contest when Clifton scored with just over a minute after Tarasenko’s goal, keeping his stick on the ice and directing a Kuraly cross-slot pass into the net. The home team was level at 12:41 when McAvoy scored on the power play, firing a shot off Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s stick and past goaltender Jordan Binnington on the glove side.
Binnington, who made 38 saves on the night, was unable to do anything about Boston’s third goal. A wrist shot from defenseman Zdeno Chára proved too hot for Binnington to handle, and Noel Acciari reacted first when the puck dropped into the slot, finding Kuraly at the right past, who was able to play the puck via his skate and tap it past Binnington for the lead. Boston was now on top and they were rarely threatened by St Louis, adding an empty-net fourth goal with 1:49 remaining to secure the win.
The Blues will see this as a missed opportunity, given that they had an advantage in terms of game sharpness, but they will have another opportunity to get a win on the board when they take on Boston in Game Two at the TD Garden on Wednesday.
Words: Stijn Janssen
Images: PA Images