A best-of-3 series or a potential elimination game — those were the two options that the St. Louis Blues faced after Monday night’s Game 4.
Following an embarrassing 7-2 loss on home ice in Game 3 — St. Louis’ first Stanley Cup Final host game since 1970 — the Blues made amends Monday. They evened up this championship series at 2-2 with a 4-2 win and now head to Boston for Game 5 later in the week.
Let’s get into some takeaways.
Blues get a quick start
After the embarrassing loss in Game 3, the Blues needed a quick start in Game 4 and they certainly got it. Ryan O’Reilly scored just 43 seconds into the game with a wraparound that beat Tuukka Rask for the 1-0 lead. That goal injected some extra juice into the lively home crowd at Enterprise Center.
The Blues went on to dominate for most of the next 10 minutes before the Bruins eventually got answered with a goal of their own, but that opening 10 minutes was fierce and really set the tone for a Blues team that needed to make a statement.
Suffocation from St. Louis
The Blues’ forecheck was tremendous on Monday night. They kept the Bruins pinned in their own end for extended periods of time and basically held the majority of sustained pressure throughout the night, but especially in the third period. St. Louis was quick and heavy on the puck and clogged the neutral zone so Boston wasn’t able to break out cleanly.
They looked like the Blues team was saw in Game 2 of this series that dominated defensively until they were able to break through on the offensive end. It was a frustrating night for the Bruins’ lineup as a whole, but the fourth line was basically steamrolled in this game. That fourth line only had about 10 percent of the shot attempts when they were on the ice at 5-on-5.
But the Bruins’ top six was also quite unremarkable. Their second line was pretty much invisible and they’re going to need a lot more from David Krejci & Co. in order to get the offense jumpstarted moving forward.
When all was said and done, the Blues outshot the Bruins 38-23 and controlled 59 percent of the attempts on Monday night.
Standout performance from O’Reilly
It hasn’t been a great postseason for Ryan O’Reilly but the Blues center had a heck of a game on Monday night. Not only did O’Reilly put the Blues on the board early, he also gave them the lead late. He did a tremendous job to bury a rebound about halfway through the final frame, giving the Blues a 3-2 lead. That would prove to be the game-winner.
O’Reilly, who is a Selke candidate this year, also played a great defensive game. It was a fantastic two-way game from him, and this is more the player we expected to see coming into the playoffs.
Lineup boosts for Blues
The Blues got Oskar Sundqvist back after he served his one-game suspension for drilling Matt Grzelcyk and he played well on the fourth line and the PK for St. Louis. The Blues kept Zach Sanford, who slotted in for Sundqvist in Game 3, in the lineup and moved him up to the second line. That proved to be a good decision, as Sanford played well and picked up an assist.
The Blues also got a boost from Vince Dunn, who was re-inserted into the lineup after getting his jaw wired shut, and he played very well. He played less than 13 minutes but when he was on the ice the Blues controlled 87 percent of shot attempts in all situations, 95 percent at 5-on-5. He also picked up an assist on O’Reilly’s goal in the first period.
Zdeno Chara injured
The Bruins captain had to leave the game in the second period after a puck deflected up into his face. He was bleeding all over the place and it didn’t look good, but he eventually returned to the bench for the third period. However, Chara didn’t play at all in that final period and the Bruins had to finish the game with five defensemen — the second time they’ve had to do that in this series. They’re 0-2 in those games.
Bruce Cassidy said Chara was encouraged to sit out the third period but wanted to be on the bench for his teammates, but it’s unknown if he’ll be able to play in Game 5. Losing Chara, who plays on the team’s top pairing, would be a big-time blow at any juncture, but it would especially sting for the the Bruins now considering they’re already missing Matt Grzelcyk on the blue line.
If Chara can’t go, we could possibly see rookie Urho Vaakanainen, who played just two regular season games for the Bruins back in October before spending the rest of the year in the AHL, thrown into the fire and inserted in the Stanley Cup Final. Buckle up.
A quiet night for power plays
After Game 3 was a special teams showcase (four power play goals for the Bruins, one for the Blues) there wasn’t much going on with the man-advantage in Game 4. Neither team scored a power play goal (Bruins 0-for-2, Blues 0-for-3) but Boston did manage to score shorthanded.
Brandon Carlo got his first goal of the postseason when he scored shorthanded in the second period to tie the game after the Bruins had been thoroughly dominated in their own end. It was a pretty wacky turn of events that made it seem like fate might be on Boston’s side.
That goal came after Vladimir Tarasenko drew a penalty call with a laughable flop, which seemed to be a trend for the Blues on Monday.
Blues coach Craig Berube commented on the officiating prior to Game 4 and raised his eyes at how many penalties were being called against his team. He should be pretty happy after Monday because it seems like his complaints had a desired result.
Game 4 updates
CBS Sports will be following along live with all of the action of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues. If you are unable to view the live application below, .