If rust played a factor for the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, they buffed that out during the first intermission.
The St. Louis Blues took it to the Bruins in the first period, owning the 5-on-5 shot share and seemed to be the more focused team early on. Catching Boston on the back heel, the Blues took a 1-0 lead through some indecisiveness from Boston in their own zone. The opening was there to perhaps kill this one off early, and it may have been more lopsided if not for a couple of penalties — a theme in this game — that the Blues took that derailed that opening-frame momentum.
If nothing else, however, it allowed the Bruins to survive the first 20 minutes. The penalties provided some time to breathe and the Bruins weathered the storm.
“I think we were able to get in after the first and regroup and say to ourselves, ‘We’ve got to show up here or this might get ugly,’ ” Bruins forward David Backes said. “The first shift of the second, they were able to bury another one off a miscue but we were able to show some resiliency. It was do-or-die time, we either picked our game up or they were going to embarrass us in Game 1.
“I think we were able to pick our game up. A couple posts, a couple chances but we were able to sneak a couple by there and get the lead on a great play. That line’s been great for our team all year, picking up in big moments and no different tonight.”
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Even with St. Louis’ goal a minute into the second period, but the Bruins had already made the adjustments needed to mount a comeback. Tarasenko’s strike was just one of three shots the Blues would get in the period, or rather, one of only three shots Boston allowed.
It’s tough to find your own offense when you’re facing a barrage of it in your own zone. Boston had 18 shots in the period, tightened up in the neutral zone, forced more turnovers and, most importantly, found the two goals that brought them back into the game.
“Well, we played into it,” said Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who played a critical role in Brayden Schenn‘s 1-0 marker. “We were turning pucks over, turned a lot of pucks over at the blueline. They were coming back. They’re a good team, they’re good cycling and they can control the puck down there if you give them a lot of time. I think it was just more how we didn’t take care of the puck and gave them too many opportunities coming back at us and second periods, it’s long change and that sort of thing. That’s where they kind of took the momentum.”
Blues head coach Craig Berube said as much in fewer words, bemoaning the lack of flow and the sporadic nature of his team after the first.
“Second period, stopped skating, stopped moving the puck, turned it over and gave them momentum,” he said.
“We’ve just got to put it together for 60 minutes,” he said. “They’re going to do good things, obviously. They’re a good team and they’re going to force us into bad situations and things like that. But we need more than what we gave tonight.”
Blues-Bruins Game 2 is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET from TD Garden on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.
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Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck