Prior to the start of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said that fans want to see physicality in the sport, and boasted that in the last year the game had more recorded hits than in previous years. In the first game between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues at TD Garden, both teams, by Bettman’s metric, gave the fans exactly what they wanted.

Throughout the course of the game, the tension between the Bruins and the Blues boiled from antagonistic pushing — so aggressive the referees often needed to separate players — into a full-throttled helmetless hit from Bruins defenseman Torey Krug on Blues right-winger Robert Thomas in the third period. In a match that pitted a team that has competed for the cup three times in the last nine years against one that is playing in the finals for the first time in nearly half a century, the Bruins bested the Blues 4-2, but not without the Blues leaving an impression.

In the opening of the first period, the Bruins proved to have the upper hand. After a tripping penalty sent center Sean Kuraly to the penalty box, the Blues weren't able to turn the power play to their advantage as the Bruins kept the puck out of their zone, and even managed to land more shots-on-goal than the Blues while a man down. Throughout the first period the Blues were playing defense to a domineering team of Bruins who looked more comfortable on the ice. The momentum shifted, however, after a goal from Blues center Brayden Schenn put them on the board, giving them a lead they would carry into the second period.

When the teams took to the ice in the second period, the Blues quickly doubled that lead to 2-0 with a straight shot from right-winger Vladimir Tarasenko.

“We weren’t too happy with the way the game was going. We weren’t playing our game, weren’t playing to our standard,” Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said during a post-game press conference. “I think after the second [goal], that kind of woke us up.”

The Bruins answered back, when forward Sean Kuraly and defenseman Connor Clifton managed to get one past goalie Jordan Binnigton to get the Bruins on the board. Their next opportunity arose when Blues defenseman Joel Edmunson received a penalty for high-sticking, but despite the power play advantage, a series of pass failures left the Bruins still trailing by one. When the next power play presented itself, however, defenseman Charlie McAvoy seized the opportunity, rushing the puck to the net and swiftly scoring another goal, making it a tie game.

The third period saw the Bruins returning to a more comfortable situation. Meanwhile, an error on the part of Edmunson left the puck sitting with Kuraly, who managed to push the Bruins ahead with an assist from captain Zdeno Chara.

Desperate to — at the very least — tie up the game near the end of the third period, the Blues pulled Binnington in the hopes that the extra man would be enough to put them over the edge. It wasn’t, and ultimately did the opposite, leaving the net empty for a final goal from Bruins forward Brad Marchand and clinching victory for the Bruins in game one of the series.

The Bruins will face the Blues again on Wednesday at the Garden.