The Stanley Cup Final has been a pendulum through three games.
Just as the Blues bounced back from a Game 1 defeat with a much stronger effort to take Game 2 earlier this week, the Bruins bounced back with an emphatic, 7-2 win in Game 3 on Saturday night. The series shifted to St. Louis for the city's first Stanley Cup Final game in 49 years, and it feels safe to say it was not worth the wait for Blues fans.
Boston was all over the Blues early and often in Game 3, to take a 2-1 series lead. The Bruins got a much-needed strong performance from their top line but the story of the night was discipline and special teams. The Blues continued to give the Bruins way too many opportunities on the power play and Boston took full advantage, scoring on all four of their man-advantages, and each time on their first shot of the power play.
Let's get into some takeaways.
Heading into the opposing barn after a frustrating overtime loss in Game 2, the Bruins really needed a strong start in Game 3. They were outplayed for the first five minutes and change but they weathered the storm -- including killing off an early Blues power play -- and took over for the remainder of the opening frame. By the time the first 20 minutes were said and done, the Bruins held a 3-0 lead and carried a power play over into intermission. It was a strong opening statement from a team that really needed one.
Again, the big story of this game has to be the Bruins going 4-for-4 on the power play. The Blues have looked totally undisciplined throughout the first three games of this series and the Bruins made them pay in a big way on Saturday night. They did so with lethal efficiency as well, scoring quickly on each of their power play opportunities.
St. Louis has looked like the more inexperienced team at several points through this series and they've taken a number of unnecessary calls that have come back to bite them. David Perron committed a completely unnecessary interference on Brandon Carlo behind the play in the first period, leading to Patrice Bergeron's game-opening goal.
Then, after the Blues got their first goal of the night, they quickly coughed up any momentum that goal may have gathered when Colton Parayko took a costly and unnecessary penalty that put the Bruins back on the power play.
The Blues' PK unit, which was missing Oskar Sundqvist as he served his one-game suspension, looked out of sorts and completely unable to stop the bleeding. None of the power play goals came as easy as this one from David Pastrnak, who was left all alone in front of the net.
It was not Jordan Binnington's night. The rookie gave up five goals on 19 shots (.737) through just over 32 minutes of action before being pulled in the second period. That marks the first time that Binnington has been yanked in these playoffs and, although he didn't get too much help in front of him, he certainly didn't look good.
Jake Allen had a relatively easy time in relief, facing just four shots in 24:28 of ice time. He made three saves.
Will their be a goalie controversy heading into Game 4? No. Binnington will be back in net, and it's worth noting he's been very good following losses this year, both in the regular season and in the postseason.
The Bruins' top line had a nice bounce back performance after a tough couple games to start the series. Patrice Bergeron (goal, two assists), Brad Marchand (assist) and David Pastrnak (goal) all brought solid performances and got back on the scoresheet, though all of that production came on the power play.
Still, they played well at 5-on-5 and did a better job of shutting down St. Louis' top stars after giving up three goals in the first games of the series. That's great news for a Bruins team that relies heavily on the top line, especially considering Patrice Bergeron headed into this game with some concerns regarding his health status.
The bottom-six for Boston has been huge in this Stanley Cup Final and that was the case again in Game 3. Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle continue to have something of a magical connection together and the Bruins' two big trade deadline acquisitions combined for another goal in the first period of Game 3.
Johansson later added a power play goal in the third period.
Blues fans are used to disappointment, but this still had to be an all-time disappointing performance for the franchise. After waiting 49 years to host a a Stanley Cup FInal game, the Blues were nothing but frustrating on Saturday night. Between the unnecessary penalties, multiple rang posts and just a general night of ineffectiveness, it was a night worth ripping your own hair out.
Even the two goals the Blues did score were pretty ugly, with both of them bouncing off a Bruins defender before making their way past Rask. They count all the same, but there wasn't a whole lot in the way of clean opportunity for St. Louis.
This is, however, a Blues team that has proven to be resilient all year long and they'll have a chance to pull even once again, this time on home ice in Game 4.
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