GOLD STAR: For my money, Alex Pietrangelo should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy rather than Ryan O’Reilly. Pietrangelo scored the winning goal after cruising into the offensive for a backhanded attempt from the slot and played 25 plus minutes of quality hockey for a Blues team that rode him like a workhorse throughout the Stanley Cup Final.
Pietrangelo finished with a goal, two points and a plus-3 in 25:56 of ice time, three shots on net, two hits and four blocked shots while once again finishing as the best D-men on the ice for either team. The Stanley Cup win on his resume and the way he played at the key moments of this series should absolutely raise his profile a bit from the lofty place it already held across the league. Pietrangelo was money in Game 7 for St. Louis.
BLACK EYE: David Pastrnak finished as a minus-7 in the Stanley Cup Final overall and was a zero once again in the biggest game of the series at TD Garden. Pastrnak finished with zero points and a minus-2 to go along with three shots on net and four giveaways and didn’t show up nearly enough in this series against a team that wasn’t afraid to rough him up.
Certainly, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron deserve criticism as well for not stepping up and producing when the team needed them to most in the biggest game of the postseason. But Pastrnak never really got going in these playoffs and truthfully never fully regained his mojo after injuring his thumb toward the end of the regular season.
TURNING POINT: There’s no doubting it was Brad Marchand turning over a puck in the final few moments of the second period and then watching as the Blues ended up scoring with the Pietrangelo backhander with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first period.
That back-breaking goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead headed into the first intermission and truly killed Boston’s chances of making it a game once St. Louis opted to pack it in defensively starting in the second period. The Bruins truthfully never recovered from that gut punch after controlling play in the first and failing to score on 11 shots on net against Jordan Binnington.
HONORABLE MENTION: Binnington was shaky in parts of the Stanley Cup Final and he looked like he’d cracked under the pressure in the third period of Game 6 when he allowed three goals in a 5-1 loss. Binnington was fighting the puck very early in Game 7, but gained confidence as the Bruins couldn’t fight their way to the front of the net for any of the rebounds that the Blues goaltender was giving up.
Then. Binnington made saves on Marchand and David Krejci on Boston's first-period power play and that was it for the Blues goalie. He stopped 32 of 33 shots, including a massive save on Joakim Nordstrom in the third period that directly preceded the third goal of the game for St. Louis. Once that two-goal swing happened it was all over for the Bruins and Binnington had outplayed Tuukka Rask in a Game 7 where it all mattered.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 – The number of points from the Perfection Line (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak) in a Game 7 where Boston’s best players needed to step up if the Bruins were hoping to win.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Devastated.” –A very quiet Charlie McAvoy asked to describe his emotions after being 60 minutes away from his lifelong goal and then falling short in the end.