A huge Game 4 is up ahead in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blues need a win to even the series, or the Bruins go up 3-1 with a chance to clinch the Cup at home. Here is a brief recap over what happened in Game 3, along with the keys to victory for each team and a final prediction.
Game 3 Recap
Boston’s first line finally broke out in a big way, led by three points from Patrice Bergeron, as the Bruins demolished the Blues 7-2. Bergeron’s linemates, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, recorded a goal and an assist, respectively.
Even bigger than Boston’s first line was their performance on the power play, where they converted on all four of their power-play chances on just four shots total. Bergeron, Pastrnak, Torey Krug, and Marcus Johansson all scored during the man-advantage, with Krug also adding three assists for the game. Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciari all scored additional goals for Boston.
St. Louis was losing 4-0 before Ivan Barbashev broke the drought halfway through the second. But Krug’s goal a minute later brought the gap to four again and knocked Jordan Binnington out of the game. Colton Parayko scored the only other goal for St. Louis, a power-play tally in the third.
Keys for Boston
Going into Game 3, Boston’s biggest keys were the arrival of their first line and the improvement of their power play. They certainly took those to heart, as their big three combined for five points and the power play was perfect. Now in Game 4, with the Blues in a must-win situation, the Bruins will have to carry their success from the previous game into tonight. Should their top trio falter and get shut down again, St. Louis could reclaim the momentum and tie the series.
If there is one area to improve on in the next game for the Bruins, it’s shots on goal. Despite four power plays and domination in the face-off circle, Boston still managed to get outshot by five, including an 11-4 difference in the third period. Seven goals on 24 shots isn’t sustainable, but now Boston can focus on putting more pucks at the net and hoping the struggles of Binnington continue.
Keys for St. Louis
When you give up seven goals at home in a Stanley Cup Final game, you could put together a laundry list of things needed to improve upon. But maybe more than anything for the Blues, it’s composure. It was evident early on that the team got caught up in the first Cup Final game in the city in nearly 50 years, and as a result, a more-experienced Boston team made them pay. Now with the bevy of emotions hopefully gone, the Blues will have to strike early and keep out of the box so Boston’s dynamic power play doesn’t get a chance to see the ice.
Of course, the one big question is what’s happening in net going forward. Binnington had an awful Game 3, making 14 saves on 19 shots before getting pulled for Allen. Allen, who was getting his first taste of any postseason action this year, was 3-for-4 following Binnington’s departure. It is expected that Binnington will start again, but a performance like that may leave lasting effects on rookie goaltenders. More than anyone else dressing for the Blues tonight, Binnington will have to step up.
If there’s one thing the Blues have proved time and time again, it’s how they bounce back following a loss. Only twice this postseason has St. Louis fallen in back-to-back contests. And I think the number will stay there for now, as a bounce-back from Binnington and a less-penalized effort will give the Blues -120 a win to even the series.