Who would be your guess for the first scorer of the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final? If you guessed Connor Clifton, you were right. So to the two people in the entire world who guessed that, congratulations I guess?
Clifton was drafted as the 133rd overall player in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In the regular season, Clifton skated in 19 games, collecting just one assist. Game 1 marked Clifton’s 13th game of the playoffs.
He scored his first ever goal in a Game 2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, he scored the first Bruins’ goal in the Stanley Cup Final. His goal back started the Bruins comeback from an 0-2 deficit at the beginning of the second period.
After an 11-day layoff, Clifton was certainly playing his game. He was the one making solid plays and not panicking whatsoever. Sean Kuraly assisted on his second career goal in the NHL to cut the Blues lead in half. And for that Game 1 comeback victory, it all started right there.
Later on, in the second period, where the Bruins dominated in heavy fashion, Clifton patiently waited for Oskar Sundqvist to lose his nerves as Sundqvist crosschecked him to the ice. On that following power play, the Bruins scored to tie the game.
Clifton also made a terrific play ahead of the go-ahead goal in the third period. Joel Edmundson tried to make an outlet pass to Robert Thomas, but Clifton was there to read it perfectly. Just a few seconds afterwards, Sean Kuraly cashed in to get the eventual game-winner.
Clifton didn’t get a point on the play, but he surely made himself a deserved third star of Game 1.
At even-strength, Clifton had the CF percentage at 65.22 and the xGF percentage at 77.34. During the night, he played more than 13 minutes at 5-on-5. More than that, he has played with confidence and almost flawless overall no matter who he’s been paired with. Bruce Cassidy would still not give him such a big ice-time as to Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo, but if needed, Clifton is there and ready to leave his mark. Step by step, Clifton is gaining a ton of attention from the Bruins fans.