Stanley Cup Buzzer: Gunnarsson wins Game 2 for Blues

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  • The Bruins managed 1-0 and 2-1 leads in Game 2, but those advantages didn’t last very long against a tenacious Blues team. At some point pretty early on Wednesday, St. Louis really flipped the switch, and dominated long swaths of play. After a third-period rocket only found the post, Carl Gunnarsson scored the overtime game-winner, and now the series is tied.

St. Louis Blues 3, Boston Bruins 2 [OT] (Series tied 1-1; Game 3 airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN on Saturday [stream here])

What a difference a game makes. In Game 1, the Bruins were in control over much of the proceedings, even though the final scored ended up being close. This time, the roles were reversed, as Tuukka Rask held off quite a few Blues attempts to give the Bruins a chance to win Game 2, but the Blues ultimately prevailed. This was a nasty affair, and it sets the stage for even more drama when the series shifts to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Scary Moment

Matt Grzelcyk needed to go to hospital after receiving a hard Oskar Sundqvist hit. Further updates were not available.

Three Stars

1. Carl Gunnarsson

Obviously, Gunnarsson scored the overtime game-winner, which provided the first-ever Stanley Cup Final game win for the Blues (previously 0-for-13). That goal is also the first playoff tally of Gunnarsson’s NHL career. Gunnarsson nearly scored his first-ever goal in the third period, but that attempt clanged off the post.

Gunnarsson also generated a secondary assist on the Blues’ first goal of Game 2. The 32-year-old Swedish defenseman was the only player to have a multi-point night with that goal and assist. He generated a +2 rating, blocked a shot, and logged 18:18 TOI in Game 2.

It’s not shocking that Gunnarsson describes the OT-winner as easily the biggest of his career.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko

For fourth consecutive playoff game, Tarasenko scored a goal, giving him 10 so far during this run. He managed to get on the board with an impressive extra-effort backhander, and perhaps he could have scored another if he didn’t miss some time with what was either an injury or equipment issue during the second period?

Either way, Tarasenko remains red-hot, tilting the ice in the Blues’ favor alongside Jaden Schwartz. Tarasenko ended Game 2 with that goal, a +1 rating, four SOG, and three hits in just 15:50 TOI.

3. The goalies

If the Bruins won, Tuukka Rask would have been a no-brainer. He made a ton of tough saves against the Blues, who carried most of the play ever since the game was tied 2-2, and probably a bit before that. Rask is the biggest reason why Boston was able to push Game 2 beyond regulation.

Jordan Binnington wasn’t asked to do quite as much, yet he deserves credit for maintaining his considerable cool through these playoffs. A more easily rattled goalie might have folded after allowing two early goals, especially since they didn’t look so great. Instead, Binnington held down the fort from there on, which isn’t so easy when you remember how much firepower Boston has.

Overall, pretty good (to great) stuff from the goalies to keep this contest from being a gluttonous goal-fest.

Factoids

Game 3 info

Game 3 takes place in St. Louis. The contest airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN on Saturday [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.