The Bruins entered the Stanley Cup Final with one of the best power plays the NHL playoffs has seen in a long time, boasting a 34% success rate. But through the first two games of this series they were just 2-for-10, with the Blues’ penalty kill making up for an abundance of unnecessary penalties.
But in Game 3, St. Louis paid for its mistakes in full. Boston went a perfect 4-for-4 on the power play in a 7–2 win, which saw Jordan Binnington pulled for the first time in his NHL career (giving up five goals on 19 shots).
The Blues had a strong start to the game, with the Bruins not getting a shot on goal until six minutes in, but Boston set a strong tone when it capitalized on a David Perron penalty to jumpstart the scoring midway through the first period. Charlie Coyle doubled the lead with 2:20 left in the first, off a no-look, cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson that froze Binnington and allowed Coyle to snipe it top shelf.
And then disaster struck for St. Louis. The Bruins made it 3–0 with 9.2 seconds left when Sean Kuraly shot through traffic to go five hole past Binnington. The Blues challenged it for offsides but the goal stood and St. Louis was given a two-minute delay-of-game penalty. And since the Bruins were as lethal as they could be with the man advantage in this game, they made the Blues’ video coach pay for his challenge. David Pastrnak scored 41 seconds into the period, backhanding up and over Binnington’s shoulder to make it 4–0, scoring on a penalty that wasn’t committed by someone on the ice.
St. Louis was able to get on the board midway through the second when Ivan Barbashev took a pass from Zach Sanford, with his shot deflecting off both of Chalrie McAvoy’s skates and past Tuukka Rask. But the momentum was quickly killed by another penalty, and Torey Krug scored on the ensuing power play, chasing Binnington and giving Jake Allen his first appearance of the postseason.
The Blues closed out the second with a lot of pressure, and brought that to start the third. The Bruins had killed 19 straight penalties in this series until a blast from Colton Parayko from the point deflected off Brandon Carlo and past Rask to make it 5–2. But it was all Boston in the end. After Noel Acciari scored on the empty net, Alex Pietrangelo went to the box for slashing Acciari and of course the Bruins couldn’t let their power play go to waste. Marcus Johnasson scored 23 seconds into the power play to end it.
With both Blues goals resulting from deflections off Boston players, Rask continues to show why he’s the Conn Smythe favorite this postseason. And while we will wait to see if Binnington can bounce back in Game 4 on Monday, the Blues should also be worried about the awakening of some important Boston players. The top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak seems to have found its groove, accounting for five total points in Game 3, and Krug whipped up four points of his own (one goal, three assists). But Binnington is 12–2 this season after a loss and the Blues have found themselves in an unfavorable position several times in a season they have often showcased their resilience.