Stanley Cup: Bounce here, bounce there and Blues, Bruins now tied 2-2
ST. LOUIS — It usually takes a lucky bounce here and there to win the Stanley Cup.
Game 4 of the final between the Bruins and the Blues had a whole lot of bounces — and not a lot of luck for goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington.
Whether it was nerves, fatigue or simply traffic in front, Rask and Binnington each gave up rebounds aplenty and both teams cashed in on the prime scoring chances Monday night. The Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo pounded a slap shot that seemed to handcuff Rask and the juicy rebound left the puck in midair where Ryan O’Reilly swatted it into the net.
The goal put the Blues up 3-2 and turned out to the game-winner in the 4-2 victory that knotted the final at 2-2.
Binnington chalked up the second-chance goals to smart shooting.
“Players were doing a good job and shooting the puck, but you know, yeah, there were some rebounds tonight but nothing out of the ordinary, I’d say,” Binnington said.
Both of O’Reilly’s goals came off rebounds. He took a rebound off of a Zach Sanford shot behind the net and beat Rask on a wrap-around to the right side just 43 seconds into the game.
Charlie Coyle evened things up with 6:46 left in the first after he found himself alone in front of the Blues net to bang home the rebound from a Zdeno Chara shot.
The Blues took advantage of another second-chance opportunity at 15:30 in the first. This time it was Vladimir Tarasenko pouncing on a big rebound in the slot off of a Pietrangelo shot to make it 2-1.
“To find your chances, you need to go in the red zones and score some greasy goals maybe,” Tarasenko said. “If you look on our goals, it pays off for us. It kind of was the game plan, so we try to keep it same way and create traffic for Rask and try to get rebounds.”
Rask struggled again during a Boston power play in the second period as O’Reilly almost poked in his own rebound on a short-handed rush.
“You try to control them all, but sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t,” Rask said.
The Bruins capitalized shorthanded at 14:19 of the second as Brandon Carlo found the back of the net for the first time this postseason after Binnington couldn’t handle a Patrice Bergeron shot with the puck caroming off of his pad.
“First shot he might get stuck a little bit,” Carlo said. “From there, you can try to get him moving side to side and ultimately put the pucks past him and it’s great that we can crash the net. Hopefully we can learn from that and utilize it in the next couple of games.”
The goal quieted the Enterprise Center and took away the momentum St. Louis generated during a prolonged shift in the Boston zone, which featured several line changes and dangerous scoring chances as well as creating the power play that led to the short-handed goal.
Then came O’Reilly’s heroics and the first Stanley Cup Final victory at home in St. Louis franchise history. Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in Boston.
“I felt like it was going to be tough to go to Boston down 3-1 and have a chance to win so we had to make sure we came out with our best game,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. “We’ve been a good rebound team all year long and all playoffs long. That was the biggest thing. We were a confident group coming into tonight and I think we showed it.”