Stanley Cup Final: Bruins ready for a stronger Blues effort in Game 4

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ST. LOUIS — After a Game 3 where they dominated the scoreboard 7-2 and the power play, the Boston Bruins believe they can be even better in Game 4 Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC; live stream).

After grabbing a 3-0 lead after the first period and showcasing an NHL-best power play unit that scored four times on only four shots in a combined 126 seconds, the Bruins know that the St. Louis Blues will be playing desperate hockey in Game 4, hoping to establish their strong forecheck, stay disciplined, and test Tuukka Rask. 

That’s what the Blues do, after all. They know how to rebound after a loss after dropping consecutive games only twice this postseason. Goaltender Jordan Binnington’s stats are extraordinary after defeats and his teammates and head coach Craig Berube have full confidence in a bounce-back game.

The Bruins won’t be caught surprised by an inspired Blues’ effort in front of their home crowd.

“Game 2, they came out hard after their loss,” said Bruins forward Charlie Coyle. “They’re here for a reason, they’re a good team. They’re not just gonna sit back and sit down. They’re gonna come hard and we’ve got to be able to do the same.”

Tactically, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and his staff have already prepped their players to be prepared as the Blues try to get their forecheck going. Transitioning the puck out of the defensive quickly, as they’ve done well through three games, will be of vital importance in Game 4.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

“We did a better job of that,” Cassidy said. “Some of that was just getting it out in the neutral zone in the foot races. The [Sean] Kuraly goal was a result of that. We tried to back them off, but if they’re going to finish hard, then let’s make them turn, go back before they can hit us. Usually that’s good support, usually that’s execution. And then foot speed. 

“So we’ll try to do a lot of the same in that regard, and then you gotta finish your plays. We did early on. We were fortunate. We finished plays we needed to but I don’t think we were great the other night. I don’t think it was a 7-2 game, personally. I thought we executed well and we had to finish plays. But that’s not always going to happen, so we have to be prepared for it to be a close game again.”

Coaches and players are always looking at things day-by-day, game-by-game, especially in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 3 was effectively over after the first 20 minutes. The Bruins executed well in many areas early on and built on that lead. But that game is over and forgotten, and both teams have moved on to focus on Game 4, a pivotal one in the series.

“I think we put that game behind us,” said forward David Krejci. “Obviously we look at some stuff on video, what we’ve been doing right. We have to keep doing that and remind ourselves how we got to the position that we’re at right now.  

“But at the same time, even if you win a 7-2 hockey game it’s not perfect. There’s some room for improvement. We addressed that and we’ll be ready to go for tonight.”

Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Monday (stream here).

MORE BLUES-BRUINS:
Berube keeping the faith in Binnington after rough Game 3
Stanley Cup photos inside Bruins’ dressing room serve as inspiration
Conn Smythe Power Rankings entering Game 4
Fan runs 28 miles with giant Blues flag to attend Game 3

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

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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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.