The St. Louis Blues evened the 2019 Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday night at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
Jordan Binnington got pulled from Game 3 after allowing five goals in a little over 32 minutes on the ice. The Blues goaltender rebounded with 21 saves to preserve the victory.
Ryan O’Reilly delivered the go-ahead score for St. Louis at the 10:38 mark of the third period, his fifth goal of the postseason.
Brayden Schenn added an empty-net goal with 1:29 left to put the Bruins away for good.
While Binnington shouldered a lot of the blame for the Blues’ disappointing Game 3 defeat, his teammates stepped up to take some credit for the heavy defeat.
“We’ve got to keep this thing five-on-five,” captain Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. “We gave them too many chances early on. Five-on-five we actually did a pretty good job, it’s just a matter of keeping them off that power play.”
O’Reilly delivered in the opening minute of the game. With only 43 seconds off the clock, he beat Tuukka Rask with a wraparound goal, narrowly sliding the puck past Rask’s outstretched skate.
According to NHL Public Relations, O’Reilly is the second Blues player to score two goals in a Stanley Cup Final game.
Fast starts have also been a hallmark of St. Louis’ playoff run. The team has tied an NHL record with 12 goals inside the first two minutes of a period, per Elias Sports (via ESPN Stats & Info).
Charlie Coyle tied the game at one, but Vladimir Tarasenko responded with 4:30 left in the first period. Tarasenko poked home a rebound from a shot by Pietrangelo.
Enterprise Center grew a bit nervy in the second period, as Brandon Carlo again brought Boston level with a short-handed goal. Beyond ruining the Blues’ power play, the goal generally came against the overall flow of the game.
Instead of letting the moment throw their game plan out of whack, the Blues kept their heads down and continued putting pressure on Rask and the Bruins defense. When it finally arrived, O’Reilly’s goal had felt inevitable.
St. Louis finished with a 37-23 edge in shots and registered 15 takeaways to Boston’s nine. The way in which the Blues dominated meant they didn’t have to lean too heavily on Binnington, which was exactly what they needed.
Although the series is tied and they have home-ice advantage, two things will concern the Bruins.
Zdeno Chara exited the game in the second period after getting hit in the face with the puck. Although he returned to the bench with a full protective shield, he didn’t play at all in the third period. The nature of Chara’s injury is unclear, so his availability for Game 5 will be closely monitored in the days ahead.
The fact that the Blues exerted so much control on the proceedings in the final 20 minutes-without Chara on the ice-wasn’t a coincidence.
And broadly speaking, one could argue St. Louis has been the stronger team.
Pietrangelo zeroed in on the Blues’ biggest problem through the first three games. St. Louis only had three penalties Monday after getting six in Game 3.
Maintaining that discipline will be critical over the remainder of the series.
Winning Game 4 was critical for the Blues, as only one team ever has overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 5 is Thursday in Boston, with the puck dropping at 8 p.m. ET.