Blues prepared for emotional return home in Game 3

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ST. LOUIS — It’s been a long time since St. Louis has hosted a Stanley Cup Final game — 17,924 days as of Saturday. It’s been so long that one of the two linesmen for their last home game in the NHL’s final playoff round — Game 2 in 1970 — was Neil Armstrong, father of Blues general manager Doug, who was only five years old at the time.

That 49-year wait will finally end on Saturday night in Game 3 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN; livestream) when the Blues host the Boston Bruins inside Enterprise Center with the series tied at one.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to describe what [the atmosphere is] going to be like,” said Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly, who’s in his first season with the team. “But from what I’ve seen I’ve been very impressed. And we’re excited to [play at] home to show what this town’s about.”

Scanning Twitter or YouTube late Wednesday night after Carl Gunnarsson’s overtime winner and you’ll see the reaction videos from the various watch parties around St. Louis, including one inside a sold-out Enterprise Center. The players noticed those scenes and appreciate just how much their run to the Cup Final has meant to the city.

Three years after losing the Rams to Los Angeles and with the Cardinals floundering under .500 and not having made the playoffs since 2015, it’s the Blues’ time to shine.

“This city’s been waiting for something special for so many years,” said native St. Louisan Patrick Maroon. “People don’t know what a great sports town this really is. This is something special and it just proves people wrong that this is the big time sports town.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The anticipation in the city has been building and grew even more after the Blues evened the series in dramatic fashion in Game 2. The fans will be loud, the building will be rocking, and the players are ready to go. But with discipline problems in the first two games leading to 10 power plays for the Bruins, head coach Craig Berube knows that the excitement in his players must be harnessed.

“We’re going to have energy, but we’ve got to make sure we keep our emotions in check, too,” Berube said. “That’s a big thing. We don’t want to be going to the penalty box and being overemotional about things. We’ve got to keep them in check and be pretty even-keeled out there but at the same time have emotion in your game but keep it at a good level.”

While the Blues’ penalty kill has killed off eight of those 10 man advantages, the penalty parade has slowed momentum at times, most notably in Game 1.

“It’s the same thing. You’ve got to keep your emotions in check and stay disciplined,” said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. “Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s happened to us the last couple of games here so we have to make sure coming home to control those emotions because we can see what they do on the power play.”

The last four months have been unforgettable for the Blues and their fans. At the start of 2019 they were thinking about the NHL Draft Lottery and how the core of the team could be ripped apart due to their poor start to the season. But then the turnaround happened and now they’re three wins away from winning the Cup. It’s an experience that the players have enjoyed sharing with fans helping to bring the city together.

“Just to be here with this opportunity is cool. We’re excited for everyone,” said O’Reilly. “We’re hopefully going to have a good game and obviously give them our best.”

Blues-Bruins Game 3 is Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET from Enterprise Center on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.