One could argue the Bruins were lucky to even get to overtime in Wednesday’s loss in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Boston’s first line had gone missing in action and an injury to defenseman Matt Grzelcyk forced the Bruins into playing just five defensemen for much of what wound up being a 3-2 loss.
Whatever woes ailed Boston three days ago have been cured after Saturday’s 7-2 rout of the St. Louis at the Enterprise Center, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
St. Louis took each of the game’s first five shots, though none were ever in any real danger of beating Tuukka Rask.
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The Bruins gradually took control of the game from there, with Patrice Bergeron’s tip of a Torey Krug shot from the point on the power play tilting the scales in Boston’s favor at 10:47 of the first period.
Not only did the goal give the Bruins the first goal they coveted, it served to quickly dispel any fears that Bergeron wasn’t quite right after a lackluster Game 2 at the TD Garden on Wednesday.
It was also Boston’s first of three goals on its next four shots. In the lead up to the Bruins’ second goal, Charlie Coyle displayed his skill set in all three zones. The Weymouth, Massachusetts native won a battle along the end boards in the defensive zone, emerging with the puck and dishing to Jake DeBrusk, who found Marcus Johansson on an entry into the attacking zone.
Johansson dialed up his fellow trade deadline acquisition up the right wing, who snapped a laser past Jordan Binnington for a 2-0 edge.
The real deflator for the Blues, however, didn’t come until the final 10 seconds of the first period. Joakim Nordstrom connected with Sean Kuraly, who beat Binnington 5-hole at 19:50 of the frame. St. Louis challenged that Nordstrom was off-sides, but the motion was denied and not only did the goal count, but the Blues lost their challenge and had to serve a two-minute bench minor.
Which is how things went from bad to worse for St. Louis at the beginning of the second period. Just 0:41 in, David Pastrnak scored on another feed from Krug to increase the Boston lead to 4-0 -- all four goals coming on its last six shots at that juncture.
The Blues finally got on the board via a double deflection at 11:05 of the second, Ivan Barbashev getting credit for the goal.
No matter, as the Bruins promptly went back to the power play, where Krug had his third point of the night on a goal that wound up chasing Binnington from the game at 12:12 of the second.
St. Louis got a power play goal courtesy of Colton Parayko at 5:24 of the third period to get back within three goals.
Noel Acciari had an empty netter at 18:12 of the third for the Bruins, followed by yet another power play tally for Johansson 23 seconds later to close out scoring.
The question becomes: will St. Louis coach Craig Berube turn back to Binnington for Game 4? Jake Allen, his replacement, only allowed one late goal after entering the game.
When tied at 1-1, the team that wins Game 3 has gone on to win 22 of the last 28 Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 4 is Monday night back at the Enterprise Center at 8 p.m. on NBC 10 Boston.