It finally happened. After 52 seasons, three Stanley Cup appearances, and more dozens of painful playoff defeats, the St. Louis Blues have won a game in the Stanley Cup Finals thanks to an overtime Carl Gunnarsson one-timer that somehow found its way over the blocker side of the human brick wall that is Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask that cemented Game 2. Although they need three more wins to transform this season from great to legendary, it still feels already like an intense burden has been lifted from the city of St. Louis.
Game 2 was truly in ever sense a must win for the Blues. After blowing a two goal lead in Game 1 and looking more like Disney on Ice than a professional team over the last two periods, a second loss would take the air out completely from their miraculous playoff run. If they did not show they could hang in their with this formidable Boston team there, it could easily be too late by the time they arrived in St. Lous for Game 3.
The game began with a rocky start. An aggressive play by Sammy Blais early in the first period resulted in him accidentally tackling Rask and earning a two minute interference minor. The result was a defensive breakdown that gave Charlie Coyle an easy goal and the Bruins a 1-0 lead. After answering with a Robert Bortuzzo goal of a Bruins’ player’s skate, the Blues gave up another easy goal off a breakdown, with an offensive zone turnover leading to a perfect set up of Joakim Nordstrom, who slipped a goal through Blues goalie Jordan Binnington’s legs. The Blues showed the same resiliency that they had all playoffs though, with Tarasenko leading a break in which he managed to get off two shots, each stopped by Rask. No Bruins could move the puck, though, and, when the second shot rebounded to Tarasenko once again, he managed to flip it from his belly over Rask and into the net, tying the game at two.
Then came two periods of nothing. Each team’s defense took over the game, and scoring chances were suddenly few and far between. Even with team’s trading penalties throughout, nobody was able to find the net. Bodies flew everywhere, with a big hit seemingly occurring every few moments. Even in the few times where defenses broke down and a team got a clean shot off, either Rask or Binnington was always there to shut down the puck and keep the game tied.
Then came overtime. After three period of balance, with neither team really looking like they were going to take control, OT was all Blues. Boston was kept puck chasing for the whole three minutes and fifty-one seconds, never controlling coming close to controlling it in their zone. Finally, after a series of well-timed passes that had suddenly become easy for the Blues over this time, O’Reilly gave a little set-up pass to Gunnarsson just in front of the Blue line. Gunnarsson immediately ripped the past on a line right into the left corner of the goal for a St. Louis Blues victory. A victory that eluded Brett Hull, T.J. Oshie, and even the great Wayne Gretzky during their St. Louis tenors. A team that was in last place just months ago has won a Finals game for the first time ever for the Gateway to the West. Now, they just need three more…