BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins outplayed the St. Louis Blues in the first period of Game 7, but the B's couldn't bury their early scoring chances and it cost them a Stanley Cup championship.
The Blues' 4-1 victory in Wednesday night's Game 7 at TD Garden was fueled by a pair of first-period goals that demoralized the crowd after an otherwise strong performance from the Bruins in the opening 20 minutes.
St. Louis got on the board with 3:03 remaining in the first period when Ryan O'Reilly tipped a Jay Bouwmeester shot past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
"They did a good job on the first goal," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They knocked us off the puck twice. They get it low to high and then it goes either on net or down low, and that was their game. They got the high tip. They got a fortunate kind of bounce there, but they worked for it."
The Blues doubled their advantage with only eight seconds left in the first period. A bad line change allowed the Blues to control the puck in the attacking zone, and Alex Pietrangelo beat Rask to give his team a 2-0 lead. This was the goal that really put the Bruins in a tough spot -- only two teams in NHL history have erased a multi-goal deficit and won a Game 7 of the Cup Final.
"The second (goal), we just didn't manage the puck," Cassidy said. "We kind of missed an assignment and they made a play, a nice play by Pietrangelo. But you're probably in a different game if it's 1-0 coming out of the first, I do believe that. I'm not going to say we would have won or we would have lost, I'm not a mind reader, but I do believe that it gave them a lot of juice for a period that they, if they looked at it objectively, probably felt or should have felt that they got outplayed, but they're up 2-0 on the scoreboard and that's all that matters."
The Bruins, in the first period, had a 22-8 edge (17-8 at 5-on-5) in shot attempts, a 12-4 advantage (9-4 at 5-on-5) in shots on goals, and a 9-5 lead (6-5 at 5-on-5) in scoring chances. The crowd was all fired up at the start of the game, and the B's certainly fed off that energy after a jittery first few minutes.
The Bruins' inability to score first and go into the second period with a lead cost them in Game 5 and it was the case again in Game 7. There hasn't been a lead change in a Cup Final Game 7 since 1987 -- a span of seven consecutive Game 7s of the Cup Final where the team that's scored first won.
"We thought we were going to (come back)," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "We had that belief we have all year, we've done it plenty of times. It takes one goal to get going and swing that momentum, and we just didn't get that one early enough. We thought we'd be able to come back, but obviously we didn't."
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