BOSTON -- With downtime before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final went toovertime, St. Louis Blues defender Carl Gunnarsson didn’t dwell on his shotthat rang off the crossbar late in the third period of the tied contest.
Instead, he ran into his coach, Craig Berube, in the bathroom, as Berubeexplained to his team after the game, and told him he needed just one moreshot to send St. Louis to its first-ever win in the finals.
Regardless of whether Berube believed him (or the location), the coach likedwhat he heard. And he liked it even more when Gunnarsson got that shot anddidn’t miss.
The 32-year-old defenseman scored his first career playoff goal 3:51 into theextra period on a slap shot from the blue line as the Blues evened thebest-of-seven finals with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesdaynight.
The decisive goal, which came on a delayed penalty against Bruins defensemanBrandon Carlo, gave the Blues their first finals win in 14 chances. That addedimportance wasn’t lost on Gunnarsson, who didn’t feel as if where he calledhis shot took away from the narrative.
“I can’t deny that,” Gunnarsson said when asked about the restroom comment.“That’s where it happened, so that makes it even more fun, I guess. It’s agood story.”
An even better story for the Blues is that they return to St. Louis for Game 3on Saturday with the series tied a game apiece, thanks to Gunnarsson.
“I’m really happy for him,” Berube said. “He felt good about himself,obviously, which he should have.”
The defeat snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Bruins, who got 34saves from goaltender Tuukka Rask.
“It probably wasn’t our best game today,” Rask said. “You know the better teamalways wins, so they were the better team today.”
Jordan Binnington stopped 21 shots for St. Louis, which controlled the puckdespite taking five penalties for the second straight game. Boston didn’t evenget a shot in overtime.
“They definitely were a step up from last game,” Bruins center Charlie Coylesaid. “We knew they were going to come out and do that, and they did it well.”
Prior to overtime, all the game’s goals had been scored in the first period.
An unmanned Coyle chipped the puck through Binnington’s pads to score on thepower play for a 1-0 Bruins lead at 4:44.
St. Louis countered less than five minutes later, but Boston answeredimmediately. After Robert Bortuzzo knotted the score on a shot from the boardswith Pat Maroon screening at 9:37, Joakim Nordstrom took advantage of aturnover by David Perron to restore the Bruins’ lead, 2-1, on a backhand goalat 10:17.
The Blues tied the game 2-2 when Vladimir Tarasenko converted a juicy reboundoff a Jaden Schwartz shot on a two-on-one at 14:55. The goal extendedTarasenko’s points streak to eight games, one short of the team’s playoffrecord (Tony Currie, 1981).
Things got testy late in the first period after St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvistsent Matt Grzelcyk to the ice on a penalized hit into the boards. Bostonfailed to score on the resulting two-minute minor, and Grzelcyk did notreturn.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said postgame that Grzelcyk went to the hospitalfor testing but provided no further update.
The Bruins killed off two penalties in the second, including a double minorwhen Connor Clifton got Tyler Bozak with a high stick with 4:21 left. Schwartzwas whistled for goaltender interference during the second half of thefour-minute power play.
St. Louis also had to kill off two penalties in the middle period, then one inthe third period.
Tarasenko missed a handful of shifts in the second period due to an equipmentissue.
--By Kyle Brasseur, Field Level Media