Carson Babbini | May 30th, 2019
After the St. Louis Blues dominated Game 2, the hockey world was interested to see how the Boston Bruins would respond. They sent a message tonight in an offensive Game 3 from the Bruins. Let’s take a look back at an interesting Game 3.
During the first period, the Bruins came out buzzing. After Blues winger David Perron went to the penalty box for interference, the Bruins would strike. Their top center Patrice Bergeron would tip a Torey Krug shot from the point past Jordan Binnington on the power play for the first goal of the game and his 100th career playoff point. The Bruins would continue to put pressure on the Blues, and seven minutes after the Bergeron goal, Charlie Coyle would continue his incredible postseason with a wrist shot on Binnington’s glove side off of a beautiful pass from Marcus Johansson for his ninth goal of the playoffs. The Bruins wouldn’t let off the gas as Sean Kuraly once again score with seven seconds left in the period going five-hole on Binnington from the slot, and the Bruins ended the first period up 3-0.
The second period would be more of the same for the Bruins, striking quickly. Taking advantage of a delay of game penalty caused by the Blues challenging the Kuraly goal for offsides, David Pastrnak would keep the strong night going with another power-play goal derived from some nice passing from the Bruins’ powerplay unit. The goal came not even one minute into the game and put the Bruins up 4-0. However, St. Louis wouldn’t go down without a fight. The Blues were able to solve Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with the fourth line coming into play again with Ivan Barbashev being the one to get the Blues on the board, beating Rask on his blocker side. Just as it looked as though the Blues were going to climb their way back into the game, the Bruins struck again. This time, off of a high-sticking call on Colton Parayko, it was Torey Krug who beat Binnington once again on his glove side. This would prompt Blues coach Craig Berube to put Jake Allen in net after Binnington let in five goals on 19 shots. Krug’s goal would be the last scored in the second period, and the Bruins would enter the third period with a 5-1 lead.
The third period was a period that was the Blues trying to get their offense back on track and try to get back in this game. For a moment, it seemed they might as Colton Parayko would strike after a foolish roughing penalty by Zdeno Chara, giving St. Louis their first power-play goal of the night, and making the game a little more interesting at 5-2. Berube would then try an interesting tactic by pulling Allen with a little under two minutes in the game, and Noel Acciari would score the empty net goal. But the Bruins weren’t done yet as Alex Pietrangelo would go to the box for slashing, and the Bruins would capitalize again, this time it was Johansson who would capitalize, giving the Bruins their fourth power-play goal of the game, and the final score of this game would go in favor of the Bruins 7-2. Now once again, let’s look at the teams individually.
The main issues that had plagued the Bruins for the first two games of this series seem to have fixed themselves in Game 3. Their top playmakers were finally able to make valuable contributions with goals from Pastrnak and Bergeron. The power play was also very effective, converting on all four chances that they got. The Bruins were very outplayed during Game 2 but came out firing during Game 3. They now look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Game 4.
Player of the Game
There are many standout performances from the Bruins tonight, but the biggest came from Torey Krug. With a goal and three assists, Krug was very active on the offensive end, and was also a stable presence on the back end, even blocking a shot which has been something that Boston has excelled at during this series so far.
Keys to Game 4
The main thing for Boston heading into Game 4 is that they can’t get complacent. There is no doubt St. Louis will come out ready to fight in Game 4 to tie up the series on their home ice, and Boston has to be ready to put on a defensive effort. That starts with limiting their penalties, where they had five tonight. The Bruins were lucky not to have the Blues take advantage of more of those opportunities, and must have cooler heads heading into Game 4. No doubt that tempers will flare, but the Bruins must be ready to be defensive before and after the whistle. The offense has to be able to replicate this kind of pressure in Game 4 if they want to have a chance of taking that stronghold in the series.
For whatever reason, the Blues just didn’t have it tonight, and it all started with Binnington. He had a rough night between the pipes, and it ended with him getting pulled for the first time in his career. His team didn’t do him any favors while he was in the net, not getting many good chances down at the other end, and being unable to solve Rask, who had an incredible game. St. Louis did have great pressure in the third period, dominating the shots on goal, but they needed to bring that pressure for the whole game. They also struggled on the power-play, only going one for five on a night where they were given every opportunity to climb back into the game.
Player of the Game
It was a rough game for all, but this pick for player of the game may be a shocker. From what I saw, Zach Sanford had a great game filling in for Oskar Sundqvist, who was serving a one-game suspension for his hit on Bruins defenseman Matt Grezelcyk in Game 2. He was able to fill in perfectly on the fourth line, which has arguably been St. Louis’ best line during the postseason. He also put in a good effort defensively with a blocked shot and a couple of hits.
Keys to Game 4
The biggest key is that Binnington has to get back on his game. There are some that argue that he hasn’t quite found his game yet in this series, and this game was a good argument for those people. If Binnington can find his game again, that’s certainly a step in the right direction for the Blues. But Binnington wasn’t St. Louis’ only problem as their offense seemed to stall out during Game 3. The top players seemed to disappear, players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and Ryan O’Reilly to name a few. There were a few defensive coverage breakdowns during the game as well, but those can be fixed easily with a few adjustments. They must find a way to get their powerplay back on track, after what was a rough night for the Blues in that department. Their penalty kill also took a step backward tonight, letting Boston convert on every single power-play opportunity. Their penalty kill was one of their greatest advantages in games 1 and 2. Now, they have to avoid it becoming their greatest weakness.
This game 3 was the response that Boston needed after they were tactically outperformed by the Blues in Game 2. St. Louis will no doubt be ready to defend their territory in Game 4, and Boston will have to be ready for a battle. This Game 4 may be the most pivotal game of the series, whoever manages to get the victory.
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