ST. LOUIS (AP) — Punch, counterpunch, Game 7.
Just when it looked like the Boston Bruins were down and out, they remembered they can throw their weight around, too. Boston showed it can play St. Louis’ physical style of hockey and then some, and the Stanley Cup Final is tied at 3-3 with Boston headed home for Game 7 on Wednesday night.
How these two bruising teams will sort that out is anyone’s guess, but the Bruins seem to be all done being bullied by the Blues.
In the wild pendulum swing this series has become, the Blues entered Game 6 Sunday with all the momentum. They had worn down the Bruins, solved their penalty-killing woes and shut down Boston’s elite talent on the power play and at even strength.
Jazzed up in front of frenzied fans hoping to celebrate the franchise’s first championship, the Blues flashed more skill than size and physicality — the bread and butter of their game — and were met by a strong resistance from the big, bad Bruins. Boston benefited from referees Gord Dwyer and Chris Rooney letting both teams play without whistling every possible ticky-tack penalty.
The Blues’ discipline issues resurfaced again and this time the Bruins cashed in and wrested away the momentum going home for Game 7. One key to Boston staving off elimination was getting the power play back on track, which it did with a 5-on-3 goal by Brad Marchand that should give that unit confidence.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy also should be feeling good after his questionable lineup decision turned out perfectly. He put Karlson Kuhlman in for his first action since April 30 because his skill better fit what he wanted than veteran grinder David Backes, and the rookie scored his first goal of the playoffs.
There will be more tactical adjustments moving forward because Cassidy and Blues coach Craig Berube have been trading moves in this chess match all series. The Blues will get key fourth-liner Ivan Barbashev back from a one-game suspension, and the Bruins might be able to bring back defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and forward Chris Wagner back from injuries.
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