After seeing their defense crumble, and a 2-0 lead vanish in game one, the St. Louis Blues entered Game Two ready to send a message to the Boston Bruins. They succeeded. Outshooting and out-hitting the bruising Bruins, after a hard fought battle leaving both teams bruised and bloody, the Blues took game two of the series 3-2 in overtime.
A skirmish between Bruins right-winger David Backes and Pat Maroon set the stage for what would be not just a physical, but at some points heated first period between two teams attempting to intimidate the other.
Boston’s first break arrived when St. Louis’ Sammy Blais collided into goalie Tukka Rask sending him to the penalty box for goalie interference. At first, the momentum was completely, and literally, in Blues territory. Boston struggled to even keep the puck in the offensive zone, and consistently played defense to a short-handed Blues who had no fear of driving the puck into the Bruins zone and taking shots on Rask. But the Blues’ hubris got the best of them when a long pass from the Bruins end of the rink into center ice set up Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk for a perfectly executed two-man drive past Blues goalie Jordan Binnington to get them on the board.
Within moments of the fans finishing cheering for the first goal, however, the Blues tied it all up with a sloppy goal from Maroon. Before St. Louis could get too comfortable though, Bruins left-winger Joakim Nordstrom swiftly doubled their lead, outmaneuvering Binnington and slipping the puck just past them to make it 2-1 halfway through the period.
Now controlling the ice, the Bruins kept the pressure high on the Blues as they continued to outskate the heftier players from St. Louis, and kept the puck in their zone. For minutes, St. Louis struggled to move the puck out of center ice, as the Bruins swam through it like a pack of sharks waiting to strike the puck back into the Blues zone the every chance they could.
Struggling to fend of Boston, a breakaway from Blues forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz through the sea of Bruins, got them into Boston’s zone and past Tukka Rask tying it all up at 2-2. Clearly rattled, the Bruins faced another hard loss when a rough check from St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist sent Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk head first into the boards with an injury so serious he had to be escorted off the ice, and out of the game.
While the second period saw no goals, it did see both teams push each other to their breaking points. At nearly every stoppage, players on both teams could be seen across the ice antagonizing each other. In some instances it was contained to a mild shove, and in others full blown shoves which quickly evolved into blows. When the players weren’t taking their aggression out on each other, they took it out on the puck. Throughout the period the stadium echoed with the crack of the stick as both teams tried to carve out a lead by sending the puck to their back lines for slap shots that were foiled each time by Binnington and Rask. With five and a half minutes left in the period, the Blues were given the upper hand when a high-sticking penalty on Clifton left Boston a man down for four minutes, but the jubilee was short lived. Two minutes later, Schwartz sent Rask falling backwards and himself to the penalty box leaving both teams even powered for the duration of the period.
Some bruised and some bloody, both teams returned in the third period hoping to clinch victory. The first half saw the Bruins trying to reduce the margin in shots on goal, but while several opportunities presented themselves Boston never could connect. Fortune struck when Blues forward Brayden Schenn was sent to the penalty box for slashing, but despite several attempts the Bruins suffered from a severe lack of chemistry in the third ending the power play, and sending both teams to sudden death in overtime.
Going into overtime, St. Louis refused to go home without a win. For four minutes, the Blues kept the puck in the Bruins’ zone, refusing to let up the pressure on goalie Tukka Rask. It took several tries, but the Blues swarmed the net, and just when the Bruins thought they could get it out of the zone, they were thwarted by a slapshot from St. Louis defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, ending the game 3-2 and the series tied.
The Bruins and Blues now head to St. Louis to see if one can gain the lead, and return to Garden for game five next Thursday.