The 2019 Stanley Cup Final is now down to a best-of-three series between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.
St. Louis leveled the series at two games apiece with a 4-2 victory in Game 4, which was its first-ever Stanley Cup Final win on home ice.
Boston and St. Louis split the first two contests at TD Garden and did the same in Games 3 and 4 at Enterprise Center.
For the rest of the series, there will be three days in between games to allow for travel, which means both sides should be as fresh as they can be at this juncture of the postseason.
Stanley Cup Final Schedule
All Times ET.
Game 5: Thursday, June 6 at Boston (8 p.m., NBC)
Game 6: Sunday, June 9 at St. Louis (8 p.m., NBC)
Game 7: Wednesday, June 12 at Boston (8 p.m., NBC)*
Ryan O’Reilly was the star of Game 4 for the Blues, as he found the back of the net 43 seconds into the contest and scored the game-winning goal in the third period.
Blues head coach Craig Berube was quick to praise his work effort after the game, per NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger:
“Day in day out, there’s not a guy who works harder than him. He’s always out there, even if practice is optional. “I thought he had a [heck of a] game tonight. Not just the goals, but his approach to the game. I thought he was moving very well, strong on the puck, did some real good things in all facets, power play, penalty killing, everything.”
In addition to O’Reilly setting the tone on offense, the Blues received a solid performance in net from Jordan Binnington, who made 21 saves after he was pulled in Game 3.
The 25-year-old was not perfect, as he let in a pair of goals, but he proved once again how easily he can put losses behind him.
With the victory, Binnington earned his seventh win after a loss in the postseason, which is one off the NHL record, per the league’s official Twitter account:
Back in the W column for @binnnasty. #StanleyCup NHL x @SAPSports https://t.co/o931WngMGK
The Blues defense also shined by giving up 23 shots to a Boston offense that came into Game 4 off a seven-goal performance in Game 3.
If St. Louis can come close to replicating Monday’s performance when it returns to Boston for Game 5, it could take its first series lead.
While the Blues will go into Game 5 with momentum and confidence on their side, the Bruins face a handful of concerns in the buildup to Thursday’s game at TD Garden.
The primary worry for Bruce Cassidy’s team is the health of Zdeno Chara, who sat out the third period after taking a shot to the face.
Ouch. 😷 Zdeno Chara headed straight to the dressing room after taking a puck to the mouth. #StanleyCup https://t.co/q0zZWErwq3
Cassidy told reporters after Game 4 that Chara was advised not to return to the game but wanted to be on the bench for his teammates, per the team’s official Twitter account:
Boston Bruins @NHLBruins
Zdeno Chara update per Bruce Cassidy: “Was very uncomfortable and was advised not to return…wanted to be on bench for his teammates. Don’t know his status for Game 5.” https://t.co/Y59XnePA2e
If Chara is unable to go for Game 5, it would mean the Bruins are without two of their top six defensemen after Matt Grzelcyk was put in concussion protocol following Game 2.
Cassidy said Monday night that Steven Kampfer would be his first option to replace Chara if he is unable to play, per NHL.com’s Tracey Myers.
“We’d look at Kampfer first,” the head coach said. “But it is another left stick, so we may measure that as well.”
Losing Chara’s experience and defensive ability would be a huge blow to the Bruins, but it is something they can overcome.
Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug have put together a decent collection of performances, and Brandon Carlo stepped up with a short-handed goal to level Game 4 at two goals apiece.
Scott Kane/Associated Press
On offense, Boston needs to make adjustments to St. Louis’ defensive game plan and get back to threatening the Western Conference champion with its all-around approach.
Five different Bruins lead the team with four points in the series, while Carlo became the 12th Boston player to find the back of the net.
If Boston absorbs the early rush of pressure from the Blues on its home ice, it should be able to get back to basics on offense and challenge Binnington.
While the St. Louis goalie made 21 saves in Game 4, he proved he is still susceptible to making mistakes, as he let a few rebounds drift into dangerous areas.
If Boston can take advantage of those errors and get out to a fast start, it can regain control of the series and gain an opportunity to clinch the title in Game 6.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.