Preview: Bruins at Blues
When the St. Louis Blues woke up on Jan. 3, they were facing a bleak reality entering their first game of 2019, sitting at the bottom of the pack with the fewest points in the NHL. Just over five months later, the Blues will try to complete a stunning turnaround and capture their first Stanley Cup when they host the Boston Bruins in Game 6 on Sunday night.
Much like the regular season, St. Louis has been playing catch-up against the Bruins until taking its first lead of the series, squeezing out a 2-1 victory in Boston on Thursday to give the Blues a chance to hoist the Cup in front of the home fans in their first Finals appearance since 1970. "We know what Sunday is," captain Alex Pietrangelo told reporters about the potential Cup clincher. "But the group's calm and we've done a really good job of refocusing after games. I don't really get a feel from anybody that the emotions are too high right now." The emotions have been running feverishly high for the Bruins after a controversial non-call led to the deciding goal in Game 5, but the players know they must bury that memory and focus on sending the series back to Boston for a winner-take-all matchup. "We understand what we need to do, it's just a matter of putting in a full 60 (minutes)," forward Jake DeBrusk said of Boston, which is 7-3 on the road in the postseason. "They're one win away, that's what they're thinking over there. We've just got to go into St. Louis and win a game."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS, Sportsnet
ABOUT THE BRUINS: The No. 1 line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for 106 goals in the regular season and 55 points in the playoffs, but managed only two assists in the past two losses. "We can't force it all on three individuals and say, 'Hey, they've got to score or we don't win'," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "So I get that, that they need to produce at some point. We could use a big goal from them. But we can win without them producing. We have. We've gotten here with secondary scoring." Boston's power play is 0-for-5 in the past two games after converting in each of the previous seven contests.
ABOUT THE BLUES: St. Louis turnaround coincided with the arrival of netminder Jordan Binnington, who went 24-5-1 following his promotion from the minors in early January and is coming off his best game of the Finals with a 38-save performance in Game 5. "Unbelievable," defenseman Colton Parayko told reporters after Binnington matched a postseason rookie record with 15 wins and set another with nine road victories. "It was a huge game by him. Very impressive. ... I could talk about that performance all day." Center Ryan O'Reilly, riding a four-game point streak, has been huge in the past two wins with three goals and an assist.
1. Blues fourth-line F Ivan Barbashev will sit out Sunday, serving a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head.
2. Bruins G Tuukka Rask recorded shutouts in close-out wins over Columbus and Carolina.
3. St. Louis is 7-1 in Games 5, 6 and 7 in the playoffs, outscoring its opponents 25-10.
PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Blues 2