Bruins beat Blues to win Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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If the Boston Bruins were rusty in Game 1, then the St. Louis Blues better watch out during the rest of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

Boston rallied from down 2-0 to win Game 1 by a score of 4-2, taking a 1-0 series lead against the Blues. As much as St. Louis must regret squandering a lead, the honest truth is that the Blues were probably lucky that the score was so close.

Perhaps that’s a silver lining for St. Louis, actually. Jordan Binnington and the Blues penalty kill was able to keep St. Louis in a game they were sometimes sorely outplayed in, so maybe the Blues can improve if they even out the overall level of play? They’ll need to do better one way or another, because the Bruins really flexed their muscles during most of Game 1.

This marks the fourth comeback win of this postseason for the Bruins, and the 31st overall for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, serving as a reminder that few leads have been safe.

Early mistakes allow St. Louis to get ahead

The Blues managed to take a 2-0 lead in part by capitalizing on miscues by David Pastrnak, with Brayden Schenn scoring first and then Vladimir Tarasenko fattening their edge early in the second period. Pastrnak’s turnover to Schenn leading to the 2-0 tally was especially bad, as Pastrnak coughed up the puck behind his own red line. Instead of that leading to a meltdown by the Bruins, it instead seemed to light a fire under Boston.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Bruins impose their will

The Bruins scored twice during a dominant second period, ultimately generating an 18-3 shots on goal advantage and often finding opportunities from high-danger areas.

After killing off the first three Bruins power plays, an ill-advised Oskar Sundqvist cross-checking penalty proved to be one penalty too many, as Charlie McAvoy managed the 2-2 goal.

While Game 1 was up-and-down for the Bruins’ top line (again, particularly Pastrnak), Boston’s improving supporting cast really came through. Sean Kuraly made a fantastic pass to set up a key Connor Clifton goal to make it 2-1, then opened up the scoring in the third period with a tenacious goal to make it 3-2.

Things to watch

The Blues simply cannot take as many penalties going forward. It’s actually impressive that they limited Boston to a 1-for-5 success rate when you think of how dangerous the Bruins’ power play has been, but that McAvoy goal was pivotal.

[Blues need to stay out of the penalty box.]

It may be difficult to stay out of the box during the most passionate times during this series, too, as these two teams haven’t needed much time to make things nasty. If penalties are totally unavoidable, St. Louis at least needs to seek a better balance than allowing the Bruins five opportunities to just two like they managed during Game 1.

[More on the nastiness, as it’s clear David Backes is putting friendships on hold.]

***

If the pace of Monday’s Game 1 serves as a fair indication, the 2019 Stanley Cup Final could be an exciting, gnarly series for the ages. The Bruins are playing well enough that the Blues need to up their games if they want to avoid this being a short series, though.

Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. That contest airs on NBCSN (stream here).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.