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DON BRENNAN: Blues win Game 2, this time, in spite of Binnington

Boston Bruins' Charlie Coyle, right, celebrates his power play goal against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) during the first period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Boston. (Bruce Bennett/Pool via AP)
Boston Bruins' Charlie Coyle, right, celebrates his power play goal against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) during the first period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Boston. (Bruce Bennett/Pool via AP)

BOSTON, Mass.— Entering Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, the St. Louis Blues were a confident bunch.

And that was partly because they had lost Game 1.

Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington has rebounded well from defeats since arriving in the NHL, posting an 11-2 record the next time out. In the playoffs, he was 5-2 following a loss, with a 1.84 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.

“I think he’s been good every game, he’s given us a chance to win every night,” centre Tyler Bozak said prior to Wednesday’s tilt. “That’s no different than the first game (of the final). Obviously he’s a guy who doesn’t get rattled and focuses on the next task.

“He’ll be ready to go.”

Of course, Binnington had never lost a game in the Cup final before, either. And after kicking himself for two of the three shots that beat him in Game 1, he was spotted shaking his head and slamming his stick in the opening period of Game 2.

His body language was just as bad while trying to stop the pucks that beat him.

The first Bruins goal, by Charlie Coyle, was on their first shot of the night. Five hole.

The second Bruins goal, by Joakim Nordstrom, was on their sixth shot. Five hole.

At that point, coach Craig Berube had to be at least glancing down the bench at backup Jake Allen.

The Blues managed to take Game 2 with a Carl Gunnarsson overtime goal. They won because of dominant play all over the ice. They outshot the Bruins 37-23, including a 14-6 mark in the second period. They had the only four shots in an overtime that was played almost entirely in the Boston end. They won despite Binnington, not because of him.

The “Do I Look Nervous” t-shirts that were made after he asked that question before playing the Jets in his first road game might need some altering, at this rate.

The word “Yes” could be placed on the back.

STARTS AND STOPS

There was talk that Tom Brady might be the Banner Captain before Game 2. “I wish I had an inside clue for you,” Sean Kuraly said Wednesday morning. “I don’t have any idea. But I’m sure it will be a Boston great.” Sure enough, it was a New England football great, but the coach, not the quarterback. TD Garden walls shook as the fans went nuts when Bill Belichick waved the B’s flag. Nice tie-in as Belichick won his first of six Super Bowls in 2001, when the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams … In a much quieter moment a little later, Belichick had a few words with Todd Angilly, who for our money has become the best male anthem singer in the league since replacing Rene Rancourt … Who will be in more pain this morning — Blues winger Sammy Blais, who was slow to get up twice after being belted by both David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom in the second period, or Nordstrom, who was limping after he blocked one Colton Parayko shot with his left foot and another with his right leg on Blues power play. The fans almost cheered as loudly for Nordstrom’s penalty-killing efforts as they did for his first- period goal … The Blues lost Vladimir Tarasenko for a few shifts in the first period, with speculation that he had suffered a shoulder injury. They would be in trouble minus ‘Tank,’ who scored their second goal of the night on a brilliant second-effort play. That extended his point scoring streak to eight games, the second longest such playoff run in franchise history. The record-holder is Tony Currie, who had a nine-game run in 1981.

ON SECOND THOUGHT

The immediate feeling from this perch was that Oskar Sundqvist deserved a major penalty for smashing Matt Grzelcyk’s head into the glass. But on second thought, Grzelcyk did put himself in a very awkward position, and what exactly was Sundqvist supposed to do? … Meanwhile, can’t imagine Grzelcyk suiting up for Game 3. Warming up in the Bruins bullpen: John Moore … There’s also speculation Brad Marchand is playing through an injury that’s preventing him from being himself … Former Bruins defenceman and GM Mike Milbury predicted the series could essentially be over Wednesday night. “If the St. Louis Blues can’t win this game, I don’t see them beating the Bruins four out of five, the way the Bruins are playing,” said Milbury, who is now an analyst on NBC.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Need to find out the length of the shift Patrick Maroon took that finished with the Blues’ big winger creating a distraction in front of the Boston goal and Robert Bortuzzo scoring on a sharp angle shot. It had to be close to two minutes. At one point, Maroon was so exhausted he could barely hold on to his stick … In the media game-winning goal pool for Game 1, yours truly drew the name of the only Bruins player who has not found the back of the net in the playoffs — defenceman Brandon Carlo. Things were looking up, but only slightly, for Game 2 when I picked the folded little piece of paper with Parayko’s name. In 100 games this season, he had 11 goals, but only one in 20 during the playoffs … The 50-50 pot at TD Garden for Game 2 was $230,000. That’s a little more than our game winning goal pool.

NOTES AND QUOTES

There was a definite contrast between the two coach’s during their availability on the morning of Game 2. Just as you would expect. Craig Berube, who had lost Game 1, was short with his answers. Bruce Cassidy was detailed and looked like he could chat all day. Asked how defenceman Charlie McAvoy had grown most in his two full seasons with the B’s, Cassidy said: “Defending. I think he’s always been a good puck- mover. Will jump up the ice. Great transition. I just think he’s valued that part. Credit to Zee (Zdeno Chara). We talked to him about a shut- down role, every night playing against good players, you’ve got to take care of business first in your own end. That’s where he has shown the most maturity. It’s tough to get young guys to buy into that aspect of the game, early in their careers, especially if they have an offensive side to them. Carlo is a little bit different. He came in and (defence) is his bread and butter, but with most guys its a tougher sell when they’re known to be a little more offensive. Good for him. We needed it. He just kind of grabbed on to that role. He can skate, he can clear the front of the net with his physical battles. That’s why we put him in that position. He’s really excelled.”

LOOSE ENDS

The Bruins pulled Rask with 1.2 seconds left in the second period and the face-off to the left of Binnington, but Ryan O’Reilly beat Patrice Bergeron on the draw … Marchand tried to pass to Bergeron when he should have shot the puck on a 2-on-1 with the B’s short-handed in the second period … The usually disciplined Blues took three penalties in the offensive zone, two for goalie interference and the controversial boarding infraction slapped on Sundqvist … For future reference, if you’re in Boston and visiting the Quincy Market, stop by the The Bell in Hand. You’ll hear some great karaoke singing, but none that could possibly be any better than Tuesday night.

KURALY IS BOSTON’S CAPTAIN CLUTCH

When the Bruins traded goalie Martin Jones to the Sharks four years ago, they received a first-round pick and Sean Kuraly in return.

The pick, 21-year-old St. Louis-born centre Trent Frederic, went pointless in the 15 games he played for Boston this season.

Kuraly, meanwhile, is busy building himself a reputation as a fourth-line centre who scores clutch goals.
The most recent, prior to Thursday night, was the winner in Game 1, in which he added had an assist and was named the first star.

He also gave the Bruins a two-goal lead in a 5-1, Game 7 victory over the Maple Leafs last month, the winner in front of 76,000 fans at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day against the Blackhawks, and, as a rookie with just eight regular season games under his belt, two huge playoff goals against the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of an opening-round series in 2016.

The first tied knotted the score at 2-2, while the second was in double overtime, allowing the Bruins to stave off elimination for one game, anyway.

“I just remember it was just a great feeling,” the 26-year-old said when having his powers of recollection tested Wednesday morning. “Anytime you can help your team win a game, it feels good.”

Kuraly had to feel great on Monday. When the Bruins’ first line gave up two goals against the Blues’ top unit in the opening period, coach Bruce Cassidy shuffled his deck, sending out Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and Noel Acciari against

Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Blues didn’t score again, while Kuraly set up Connor Clifton for Boston’s first goal and banged in what proved to be the winner just past the five-minute mark of the third.

It wasn’t the first night this spring the Bruins’ fourth line was their best.

Cassidy made the matchup switch because the Patrice Bergeron line “mismanaged the puck” and made a couple of turnovers, one leading directly leading to the Blues second goal.

“Kuraly tends to play a straight-line game, a little more physical, so we thought that might be a better fit,” said Cassidy, who was confident Kuraly could handle the pressure of such a responsibility in the first game of a final. “Sean came in against Ottawa in the first-round three playoffs ago and scored some big goals for us. You could tell right then that the moment wasn’t going to bother him.”

Kuraly says he has no problem at all with being labelled a fourth-liner.

“We’re the fourth line on the sheet because there’s a heckuva lot of good players on our team,” said Kuraly. “That’s just fine with us. Our focus, is just try and help the team a little bit, to push the game in our direction if we can.”

‘FUNNEST’ TIME FOR SCHWARTZ

When the Bruins traded goalie Martin Jones to the Sharks four years ago, they received a first-round pick and Sean Kuraly in return.

The pick, 21-year-old St. Louis-born centre Trent Frederic, went pointless in the 15 games he played for Boston this season. Kuraly, meanwhile, is busy building himself a reputation as a fourth-line centre who scores clutch goals.

The most recent, prior to Thursday night, was the winner in Game 1, in which he added had an assist and was named the first star.

He also gave the Bruins a two-goal lead in a 5-1, Game 7 victory over the Maple Leafs last month, the winner in front of 76,000 fans at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day against the Blackhawks, and, as a rookie with just eight regular season games under his belt, two huge playoff goals against the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of an opening-round series in 2016.

The first tied knotted the score at 2-2, while the second was in double overtime, allowing the Bruins to stave off elimination for one game, anyway.

“I just remember it was just a great feeling,” the 26-year-old said when having his powers of recollection tested Wednesday morning. “Anytime you can help your team win a game, it feels good.”

Kuraly had to feel great on Monday. When the Bruins’ first line gave up two goals against the Blues’ top unit in the opening period, coach Bruce Cassidy shuffled his deck, sending out Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and Noel Acciari against Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Blues didn’t score again, while Kuraly set up Connor Clifton for Boston’s first goal and banged in what proved to be the winner just past the five-minute mark of the third.

It wasn’t the first night this spring the Bruins’ fourth line was their best.

Cassidy made the matchup switch because the Patrice Bergeron line “mismanaged the puck” and made a couple of turnovers, one leading directly leading to the Blues second goal.

“Kuraly tends to play a straight-line game, a little more physical, so we thought that might be a better fit,” said Cassidy, who was confident Kuraly could handle the pressure of such a responsibility in the first game of a final. “Sean came in against Ottawa in the first-round three playoffs ago and scored some big goals for us. You could tell right then that the moment wasn’t going to bother him.”

Kuraly says he has no problem at all with being labelled a fourth-liner.

“We’re the fourth line on the sheet because there’s a heckuva lot of good players on our team,” said Kuraly. “That’s just fine with us. Our focus, is just try and help the team a little bit, to push the game in our direction if we can.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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