The St. Louis Blues are one win away from lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup after a controversial non-call tipped the scales in their, 2-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden Thursday night.
Jordan Binnington (15-9 record, 2.46 goals against average, .913 save percentage in 22 games played this postseason) stopped 38 out of 39 shots faced in the win for St. Louis.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (14-8, 1.97 GAA, .937 SV% in 22 GP this postseason), made 19 saves on 21 shots against in the loss.
Binnington has now tied the NHL rookie record for most wins in a playoff year with his 15th victory this postseason, joining Cam Ward, Ron Hextall, Patrick Roy and Matt Murray as the only rookie goaltenders to amass 15 wins in a playoff year.
St. Louis is one road win away from tying the NHL record for most road wins in a single postseason (10, set by the 1995 New Jersey Devils, 2000 Devils, 2004 Calgary Flames, 2012 Los Angeles Kings and 2018 Washington Capitals– all but the Flames won the Cup that year).
The Blues, of course, lead the series 3-2 and will have a chance to win the Cup for the first time in franchise history on home ice at Enterprise Center in Game 6.
The winner of Game 5 has won the Cup about 72% of the time with an 18-7 series record overall since the introduction of the best-of-seven game series format in 1939.
Bruce Cassidy scratched David Backes and went with seven defenders in Game 5, inserting Steven Kampfer on the blue line with Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, John Moore and Connor Clifton.
Chara was on the bench for the entire third period of Game 4 after reportedly sustaining a broken jaw due to an errant puck that deflected off his own stick. He was a game-time decision, but took part in warmups and started Game 5 without any interruption.
With Backes out of the lineup, Boston’s second line right wing was rotated among the remainder of forwards in the action.
As with the last few games, Chris Wagner (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (undisclosed) and Kevan Miller (lower body) were out due to injury.
Grzelcyk was not cleared from concussion protocol for Game 5, but may be a factor on Boston’s defense in Game 6.
Cassidy’s long list of healthy scratches included Lee Stempniak, Zachary Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, Zane McIntyre, Paul Carey, Ryan Fitzgerald, Backes, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.
Robert Bortuzzo was inserted into Craig Berube’s lineup for St. Louis, while Joel Edmundson was scratched on the blue line.
Derek Sanderson and Bobby Orr were Boston’s “Fan Banner Captains” prior to Game 5.
A rowdy crowd at TD Garden erupted in cheers for their Bruins captain as Chara was announced as a starter in Game 5, then the fans kept the noise going as the action progressed.
Blues defender, Vince Dunn, sent the puck out of the playing surface while trying to make a clearing attempt and was instead charged with a minor penalty for delay of game at 6:27 of the first period.
Boston did not convert on the first power play of the game.
Late in the opening frame, Brad Marchand went for a loose puck and got a stick on Binnington while the ref blew a quick whistle. Marchand was also penalized for slashing at 17:22 of the first period and St. Louis went on the power play for the first time of the night.
The Blues did not capitalize on their initial skater advantage on Thursday.
For the first time in the series, the two teams remained tied, 0-0, heading into the first intermission.
The B’s outshot the Blues, 17-8, after one period of play and led in takeaways (5-1) and hits (23-18). Meanwhile, St. Louis held the advantage in blocked shots (8-6), giveaways (3-0) and face-off win percentage (75-25) through 20 minutes played.
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play as the second period got underway.
In the opening minute of the middle frame, St. Louis does what St. Louis has done best in the series– force the Bruins out of position and behind the play.
While both defenders were pressing along the wall, Jake DeBrusk was the closest forward to the low slot and perhaps should’ve been in front of Ryan O’Reilly (6) as O’Reilly received a pass from Zach Sanford and fired a backhand shot over Rask’s glove from point blank.
Sanford (3) and Alex Pietrangelo (14) notched the assists on O’Reilly’s third goal in the last two games and the Blues led, 1-0, 55 seconds into the second period on road ice.
Blues pinch, B’s can’t clear. Rinse, repeat.
Midway through the second period, David Perron was assessed a minor infraction for interference against David Pastrnak at 9:25.
Boston didn’t convert on their second power play of the night.
Through 40 minutes of play, after David Krejci made a save in the final seconds while the Bruins scrambled in their own zone, St. Louis held the, 1-0, lead entering the second intermission.
Boston was still outshooting the Blues, 25-14, and had an, 8-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone. The B’s also led in blocked shots (14-9), takeaways (7-6) and hits (35-29) after two periods, while the Notes led in giveaways (6-3) and face-off win% (62-39).
The Blues were 0/1 on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play entering the third period.
Alexander Steen kicked things off in the final frame of regulation with an interference penalty at 3:09 of the third period.
For the third time of the night, Boston failed to convert on the power play.
Cassidy started to experiment with his lines, placing Charlie Coyle on the first line with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and downgrading Pastrnak full-time to the second line right wing with Krejci and Marcus Johansson (in place of DeBrusk).
With 13 minutes left on the clock, after Binnington froze the puck, the officials gathered and summoned an official review to confirm that the puck had, in fact, not crossed the goal line completely on a last ditch effort by Krejci.
Midway through the third period, Tyler Bozak tripped Noel Acciari, but neither ref on the ice made a call– even as the ref behind the net was looking right at the play– leaving many scratching their heads as the Blues kept possession and managed to slip a puck through Rask’s five-hole as the Bruins goaltender was left playing defense for his defenders that had blown coverage.
The non-call left Cassidy irate in his postgame press conference and Berube had the gall to say he’s “not here to judge the officials” in his podium address following Game 5– after complaining about calls made earlier in the series.
But enough about everything you already know if you’ve been watching the entire 2019 postseason.
Perron (7) was credited with the goal that made it, 2-0, St. Louis at 10:36 of the third period, while O’Reilly (14) and Bozak (8) picked up the assists.
Moments later, DeBrusk (4) blasted a shot over Binnington’s blocker side on a delayed call against the Blues for high-sticking and Boston cut St. Louis’ lead in half, 2-1.
Krug (15) had the only assist on DeBrusk’s first goal of the series at 13:32 of the third period.
Despite the being caught in the face with a high-stick, Krug was not bleeding and thus both teams remained even-strength as deemed by the rulebook when a team scores on a delayed call against the other team.
Since there was no double-minor and DeBrusk scored, there was no need to send a St. Louis skater to the penalty box. The action, therefore, resumed.
With about a minute remaining in the game, Rask vacated the crease for an extra attacker as Boston looked to tie the game and force overtime, but it was too little, too late as the seconds ticked off the clock.
At the final horn, the Blues took home the, 2-1, win on the road and took charge of the 3-2 series lead with a chance to win their first Cup in franchise history in front of their home crowd on Sunday.
St. Louis finished the night leading on the scoreboard despite trailing the B’s in shots on goal, 39-21, after 60 minutes of play in Game 5.
Boston finished the night leading in hits (43-34), while the Notes held the advantage in giveaways (7-4) and face-off win% (59-41). Both teams had 15 blocked shots aside.
The Blues went 0/1 on the skater advantage and the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play in Game 5.
With the 3-2 series lead, St. Louis heads home with the chance to officially eliminate Boston from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and win the Cup in front of a packed crowd donning the Blue Note crest on Sunday.
St. Louis improved to 9-3 on the road this postseason, while Boston fell to 5-2 in games after a loss this postseason. The Bruins are now 7-5 at home and are facing elimination for the first time since Game 6 in the First Round in Toronto.
The winner of the last three games in the series also scored the game’s first goal.
Game 6 is scheduled for a little after 8 p.m. ET Sunday night at Enterprise Center and fans in the United States can tune in on NBC. Viewers in Canada have a plethora of options to choose from to watch the action on CBC, SN or TVAS.
If Boston is able to hold off elimination and force a Game 7, the finale of the Final would be next Wednesday night back at TD Garden.
The Blues have never won the Cup on home ice, while the Bruins have not won the Cup on home ice since beating St. Louis at the old Boston Garden in 1970.