Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Blues in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to force a Game 7 in TD Garden.
GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask has been excellent in the postseason, but he elevated to a different level at the biggest possible moment in Game 6. Rask was massive in the first couple of periods making 19 saves while St. Louis had a lot of time pounding the Bruins in the defensive zone, and he threw in a behind-the-back save after Charlie McAvoy had deflected a puck that looked like it was headed for the back of the net. Then Rask held strong in the third period while Jordan Binnington crumbled and allowed three goals in the third period on 11 shots to let the Bruins run away with the game headed back to Boston for a Game 7. All Rask needs to do is go out and have another epic performance in Game 7 on home ice, and the B’s netminder will have his crowning Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup moment after so many questions about his big game ability over the years.
BLACK EYE: Jordan Binnington has been just okay for most of the Stanley Cup Final series, and he finally caved in during the third period of Game 6. Or as John Tortorella famously said in the second round of the playoffs, the Bruins “dented” Binnington in a parade of goals that was led by a soft, bouncing knuckle puck off the stick of Brandon Carlo that somehow went past the Blues netminder. In all he gave up three goals on 11 shots in the third period and four goals allowed on 31 shots through the entire game while not being up to the challenge of matching Tuukka Rask. It looked like Binnington finally started playing like a rookie in a big moment in the Stanley Cup Final, and that’s an interesting trend headed into Game 7 on Wednesday night.
TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was all about getting the early goal and playing the role of front-runner against the Blues. Boston got the 5-on-3 power play after a boarding penalty on Brayden Schenn and a puck over the glass from Ryan O’Reilly and they didn’t waste any time going right after the Blues penalty kill. Once Marchand scored on his blistering one-timer under the bar, the Bruins had the good start, had the lead and really were able to dictate terms to St. Louis much more than they’ve done at times during this series. The Bruins only outshot the Blues by a 12-9 margin in that opening period, but the first goal and the play of Tuukka Rask were major difference-makers.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brandon Carlo doesn’t get mentioned in this space very often, but he earned it after a strong effort in Game 6 to help keep things alive for Boston. Carlo played 20:32 of ice time and was a team-best plus-3 in the win, and scored a huge insurance goal in the third period when he bounced a knuckling wrist shot from the point that somehow skipped past Jordan Binnington for a massive insurance goal. Carlo finished with a shot on net, one hit and the goal, but also played extremely strong defense in his own zone with his partner Torey Krug. Carlo now has two goals in the playoffs for the Bruins after only managing just two during the entire regular season for the Black and Gold.
BY THE NUMBERS: .973 – the save percentage for Tuukka Rask in elimination games during these Stanley Cup playoffs to go along with the perfect 5-0 record and two shutouts. That screams out big-game-goalie.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I saw it go off the post and off his back, and split-second reflex I just swatted at it. [Tuukka Rask] our best player and he has been all through the playoffs. We know that when he plays like that to the best of his ability, when we do our jobs and help him then he’s going to be there.” –Charlie McAvoy talking about the pivotal behind-the-back assist that he gave Rask during a big second-period play.
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