Stanley Cup Buzzer: Kuraly, Bruins overwhelm Blues

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  • The Blues generated a 2-0 lead in Game 1, but it wasn’t enough to contain the Bruins. Boston scored the next four goals, finding plenty of room and putting plenty of pressure on St. Louis for much of the contest. It was a hard-hitting, sometimes nasty affair, which seems just fine to both teams.

Boston Bruins 4, St. Louis Blues 2 (Boston leads series 1-0; Game 2 airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday; stream here)

After Vladimir Tarasenko scored an opportunistic goal, the Blues found themselves up 2-0 early in the second period. The Bruins responded with a goal of their own just 1:16 after Tarasenko’s tally, and dominated from the that point on. While the score was close – particularly when you consider that Brad Marchand scored on an empty net – the Bruins were able to dominate long stretches of play. St. Louis has a ton of work to do heading into Game 2.

Grudges and gore

There were plenty of physical moments in Game 1, both during play and after the whistle, with David Backes figuring in prominently during some of the hostility with his former Blues teammates.

The Bruins had a scare late in the contest, as Zdeno Chara was bloodied and shaken up by a blocked shot. The early word from Chara is that he merely needed stitches, so that could be a mostly dodged bullet, but we’ll see if anything else comes of that, and the other nasty moments from Monday.

Three Stars

1. Sean Kuraly

With the Bruins down 2-0, Kuraly made a fantastic pass to Connor Clifton to get Boston on the board. Kuraly then scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, giving him a one-goal, one-assist night.

Kuraly hasn’t generated a ton of points during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and was unable to score a goal during Boston’s sweep against the Carolina Hurricanes, yet he’s managed to create plenty of chances in a depth role. One of the better examples was Game 3 against Carolina, where he couldn’t score a goal despite seven SOG, although Kuraly did manage an assist.

You could say that the sneaky-good forward was “due” for a breakout, and Kuraly enjoyed just that in Game 1. Boston already brings plenty of threats to the table, so St. Louis really can’t afford to allow Kuraly to get on a hot streak, too.

2. Brayden Schenn

Schenn had been snake-bitten in his own right. His 1-0 goal represented just his third goal of this postseason, but it also gives Schenn goals in consecutive games, as he also scored an important one for the Blues as they wrapped up their Round 3 series against the Sharks.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Schenn made a head’s up play to intercept a David Pastrnak pass attempt behind the Bruins’ goal line to set up Tarasenko’s 2-0 goal, too, so Schenn was a big part of the Blues getting a 2-0 early lead, finishing Game 1 with a goal and an assist.

It wasn’t enough, but the Blues have to be thrilled to see their hot-and-cold top line revving things up.

3. Connor Clifton

There are some interesting options for the third star, including Jordan Binnington, who kept the Blues within striking distance by making 34 out of 37 saves.

Clifton had quite the Game 1, joining Charlie McAvoy as Bruins defensemen who scored important early goals to lock things up at 2-2. Clifton’s goal was the first for Boston, breaking the ice and giving the Bruins some life.

While Kuraly’s pass made it happen, Clifton ranked as one of the Bruins who tilted the ice in Boston’s favor, as you can see by checking out Natural Stat Trick’s numbers. Clifton was on the ice for nine even-strength scoring chances for and only four against, among other impressive five-on-five stats. Jake DeBrusk‘s numbers were even more impressive, but Clifton scored a goal and logged more ice time, so he gets the edge. Marcus Johansson continues to have a strong playoff run in his own right.

The more a once-seemingly-top-heavy Bruins team gets quality work from their depth players, the scarier Boston looks.

Factoids

Game 2 info

Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the action on NBCSN (stream here). For more information on the rest of the series’ dates and start times, click 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.