ST. LOUIS (AP) — Playing with fire finally caught up to the Blues.
Missed chances and an early rash of penalties cost St. Louis with a chance to win the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history on home ice.
The Blues got off to a quick start with five of the first six shots in Game 6 against Boston on Sunday night, but then Brayden Schenn took a minor boarding penalty after smashing Joakim Nordstrom into the boards at 7:17 of the opening period. About a minute later, Ryan O’Reilly flipped the puck over the glass prompting a delay of game call, leaving St. Louis two men down.
The lack of discipline that St. Louis has used to its advantage throughout the postseason — playing hard, roughing up the opponent while dodging bullets on the penalty kill — caught up to the Blues quickly this time. Boston needed just 21 seconds to convert on the 5-on-3 on a Brad Marchand one-timer to make it 1-0.
Seconds before taking the penalty, O’Reilly actually had a short-handed breakaway but the puck rolled off of his stick before he could get a shot off.
The missed opportunity followed by the Bruins cashing in on theirs set the tone in St. Louis’ 5-1 loss.
“We did have some good chances, but we need the result,” O’Reilly said. “We have to be better.”
Goaltender Tuukka Rask did the rest, shutting down a number of high-quality chances by the Blues. When Rask couldn’t make the save, his defense was there as Charlie McAvoy swiped a puck away that was rolling off of Rask’s back.
Rask frustrated the Blues all night, finishing with 28 saves.
“We’ve got to get more pucks to the net, a little bit more traffic and get one of those really dirty ones,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “It was a tight game. I think when it’s like that we need to get to the inside a bit more, create some traffic, make it tougher.”
The Blues had four power plays to the Bruins’ two, but couldn’t convert any of them even though they put 12 shots on net. St. Louis is just 1 for 18 with the man advantage through the first six games of the Stanley Cup Final, a far cry from Boston’s 7 for 21.
“I thought we had good looks,” Blues forward David Perron said. “Of course we want to score on the power play, but I don’t think that’s why we lost the game. We made some mistakes that ended up in the back of our net.”
O’Reilly finally got the Blues on the board with 7:59 left in the third, but only after Brandon Carlo and Karson Kuhlman had given the Bruins a comfortable 3-0 lead with goals earlier in the period.
The first of those Bruins goals came on an awkward Carlo shot from the point that bounced past Blue goalie Jordan Binnington’s pad, eliciting an audible groan from the 18,890 at Enterprise Center.
“It was just one of those when you see the puck going toward the net you kind of have a feeling it’s not going to go well and sure enough it went into the net,” Perron said. “It’s tough on the goalie when it bounces like that.”
Boston’s fourth goal late in the third put a fitting topper on St. Louis’ night as David Pastrnak didn’t miss when the puck found his stick in the slot after a Blues turnover.
St. Louis now faces a Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday.
“It’s tough but we have to find a way,” Perron said.”
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