Stanley Cup Buzzer: Blues’ big stars beat Bruins

  • The controversial no-call on Tyler Bozak justifably draws a lot of attention, but Game 5 was about more than that. And, however the Bruins feel about that polarizing moment, the bottom line is that the Blues now have the Bruins on the brink of elimination. Boston dominated many aspects of Thursday’s game, but they couldn’t find a way to win, leaving St. Louis one victory away from its first-ever Stanley Cup victory.
  • St. Louis Blues 2, Boston Bruins 1 (Blues lead series 3-2; Game 6 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET [airing on NBC; stream here])

    Criticisms of officiating will steal the headlines, yet Jordan Binnington stole Game 5 for the Blues. Boston’s power play sputtered to an 0-for-3 success rate, and 39-21 shots on goal advantage wasn’t enough for the Bruins to win on Thursday. The often-dominant Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak haven’t been able to produce, and Pastrnak hasn’t always been with those two veterans lately, in part because of that sputtering production. Whether the Bruins get more whistles or not, they need better play to avoid falling painfully short against Binnington and the Blues.

    [NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    1. Jordan Binnington

    While the Blues were able to slow down the Bruins’ chances on the rush aside from a hot first period, St. Louis otherwise relied on Binnington to stand tall once again. And, as usual, Binnington delivered; it was almost as if he was hypnotized into believing that he was coming off of a loss.

    Binnington stopped 38 out of 39 of the Bruins’ shots on goal, and allowed the Blues to “turtle” a bit in Game 5. Consider the odd periods of this one, as Boston generated SOG edges of 17-8 in the first and 14-7 in the third (along with 8-6 in the second), but only Jake DeBrusk could score against Binnington.

    At the risk of sounds like a broken record, Binnington just seems downright unflappable for the Blues.

    2. Ryan O'Reilly

    If Binnington isn’t the hottest player in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, then that title goes to Ryan O’Reilly.

    ROR generated the first goal of Game 5, and then set up David Perron for that controversial game-winner, giving him two points for the second consecutive game. Overall, O’Reilly is now on a four-game point streak with three goals and three assists for six points during that span.

    You might expect the Selke-worthy center to show up nicely in other categories, and O’Reilly did just that in Game 5. ROR went 19-9 on faceoffs, had a +2 rating, three SOG, and even blocked three shots on Thursday.

    3. Alex Pietrangelo

    Consider Pietrangelo and the Blues’ defense as the third star, really. In particular, Jay Bouwmeester also deserves credit for logging a ton of minutes while keeping his head above water, which is shocking for an aging veteran who found himself (understandably) healthy-scratched at times this season. Colton Parayko also deserves a lot of credit.

    But Pietrangelo gets the slight edge if you can only choose one defenseman.

    The 29-year-old grabbed an assist (though Zach Sanford‘s pass was the highlight, and primary assist) in Game 5. Pietrangelo also had a +2 rating, three SOG, one hit, and two blocked shot in 27:55 TOI.

    Generally speaking, the Blues’ top players are delivering in a big way, and Pietrangelo shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle.

    Factoids

    • Binnington’s 38 saves ties for the second-most by a rookie goalie in a Stanley Cup Final. The most is 40 saves, shared by Rogie Vachon (1967) and Ron Hextall (1987). Binnington’s 15 playoff wins ties him for the most for any rookie goalie, so if St. Louis wins the Stanley Cup, there’s a strong chance that Binnington stands alone there. (Sorry, Jake Allen … but we’ll see?)
    • Pietrangelo notched his 14th assist of this postseason. The Blues’ single-postseason record is 15, owned by Bernie Federko from 1982, so Pietrangelo has a chance to tie or break that mark.
    • The Blues’ nine road playoff wins ties them for second all-time. They currently have 30 road wins between the playoffs and regular season, which only ties them for the most in 2018-19, as the Tampa Bay Lightning managed that in the regular season. In case you needed a reminder of how great that Lightning team was through 82 games (sorry Tampa Bay fans).

    How to watch Game 6

    Game 6 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday (NBC; 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.

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    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.