Sean Kuraly

NHL explains why Sean Kuraly's goal counted after Blues challenge

NHL explains why Sean Kuraly's goal counted after Blues challenge

For a moment on Saturday night, it looked like Sean Kuraly's goal wouldn't count. After the Boston Bruins fourth liner snapped a first-period shot into the back of the net from distance, the St. Louis Blues challenged the play. They argued that Bruins winger Joakim Nordstrom was offside before the goal. And on replay, it appeared that they may be right.

However, the call on the ice ended up standing as it was called. The NHL offered an explanation of why that was the case shortly after the call was made.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesmen, the Situation Room confirmed that St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson passed the puck back into his own defending zone prior to the goal. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 83.1 which states, in part, "If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue."

Therefore, the original call stands - good goal Boston Bruins.

Needless to say, this turned out to be a big moment in the game. Not only did Kuraly's goal make the game 3-0, but the Bruins also drew a power play because of the failed challenge, as teams that lose offside challenges are subject to a delay of game penalty.

As a result, the Blues were shorthanded at the for the end of the first period and beginning of the second, and David Pastrnak was able to net a nifty backhand goal. That extended the lead to 4-0 and played a role in Blues goalie Jordan Binnington getting chased from the game in the second period.

Despite the end result, Blues coach Greg Berube didn't regret his decision to challenge, calling the play a 50/50 proposition.

"I thought it was 50/50," Berube said per NHL.com's Louie Korac. "I think if we go in there (trailing) 2-0 (going) into the second, it's a big difference than 3-0."

Kuraly's goal did end up being the decisive one in the Bruins' 7-2 victory, so Berube certainly had a point there. And given that many thought after the initial replay that Nordstrom was offside, it was worth a shot. This call just happened to, rightfully, go in the Bruins' favor.

Talking points from Bruins' 7-2 win over Blues>>>

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Sean Kuraly shares Bruins' locker room message after sluggish Game 1 start

Sean Kuraly shares Bruins' locker room message after sluggish Game 1 start

The concerns turned out to be well-founded.

The Boston Bruins' 10-day layoff did impact their game early in the Stanley Cup Final, as the St. Louis Blues took a one-goal lead in the first period of Game 1 on Monday night.

Sean Kuraly admitted as much Tuesday in his blog about the series for NHL.com.

"I wasn't feeling it early in the game, my legs weren't there," Kuraly wrote. "I was definitely feeling the effects of the 10-day break between games."

Kuraly wasn't alone, as the B's looked sluggish as an entire unit. But they also didn't panic. Kuraly took fans inside the dressing room, where the club refocused on a new objective.

"After we didn't play a good first 20, we went in the locker room and just said, 'Hey its behind us now and let's see if we can play a good 40 minutes and start with a good first five minutes,' Kuraly wrote. "That's what we did. To come back in the game, that one felt good."

It got worse before it got better, as Vladimir Tarasenko put the Blues up 2-0 just a minute into the second period. But the Bruins played with noticeably more energy in the second, and it paid off: Connor Clifton scored the response goal 76 seconds after Tarasenko's on a great pass from Kuraly, and Charlie McAvoy tied things up on the power play 10 minutes later.

Boston never looked back, playing 40 minutes of dominant hockey that produced four straight goals and a 4-2 win at TD Garden.

The Bruins' emphatic response after a rough first period was a testament to the team's strong leadership, as Kuraly describes a unit that didn't flinch after the rust feared may hamper them in Game 1 did just that -- until the B's shook it off with authority.

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Deep Bruins team once again led by fourth line in Game 1 of Cup Final

Deep Bruins team once again led by fourth line in Game 1 of Cup Final

BOSTON – Just as it’s been all season and since Sean Kuraly jumped back into the lineup for the fourth line during the first-round series against the Maple Leafs, the fourth line continues to be a driving force for the Bruins.

It’s helped the Bruins overwhelm opponents with their depth and it happened again in Monday night’s Game 1 as the fourth line powered a couple even-strength goals and locked down St. Louis’ top line in a 4-2 win for the B’s at TD Garden. Per usual, Kuraly was in the middle of it all with a couple of points and a game-winning goal that was all about winning battles around the net before Kuraly pushed one past Joel Edmunsson at the front of the Blues crease.

The big offense night gives Kuraly three goals and seven points in 14 playoff games and continues his “Big Game Kuraly” reputation of showing up in the clutch moments when it matters most during the postseason. The fact that Noel Acciari was a one-man wrecking ball while throwing Jaden Schwartz over the boards and onto the Bruins bench was just an added bonus (all that before crunching Alex Steen after he clobbered Charlie McAvoy in the corner) with the fourth line roughing up the Blues' best players as well.

The B’s fourth line does north-south hockey very well, and that was exactly what was needed on Monday night against a rugged Blues bunch.   

“This is what they do. They possess pucks, they can skate, they play simple hockey and I think against St. Louis if you play north, especially for us being off as long as we were, we had to not get drawn into the fancy stuff, the east-west stuff, stuff that you’re doing in practice because you don’t have the competitive edge. It showed on the second goal, we just mismanaged the puck, even the first one we got a little loose so at the end of the day they are always going to play a straight line game,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they get rewarded and sometimes they don’t but they always play the same way. That’s what they did tonight. They got rewarded by going to the net, they’re always good defensively and Noel will add the physicality.

“Going back to the previous question, we made the switch, we need to be a little more physical against that line and I thought they were able to deliver on that too.”

Cassidy reserved the right to change his strategy for Wednesday and Game 2 based on what he saw during the opening Stanley Cup Final game, and what his Perfection Line is capable of bringing later on in the series. But it’s hard to argue with a Bruins group that outshot the Blues by a 30-12 margin over the final 40 minutes of the game, and brought plenty of physical thump against a big, strong Blues roster that’s played some pretty dominant hockey along the way in their playoff run.

It’s also tough to argue with a fourth line that essentially punched the best Blues forwards right in the mouth, holding them down defensively while scoring a couple of goals amidst their big assignment as well.

“One of the strengths of this team is that we have four lines that can produce at any given time on any given night,” said Marcus Johansson, who also had a strong game for the Bruins. “What better time to do it than tonight? It’s not just they [the fourth line] scored the goals, I think they led the group to take the game over in to being more physical and I think that is what won us the game.”

The first goal was a big one for the Bruins, with it coming as an answer just 1:16 after the Blues had made it a 2-0, and it was Kuraly breaking into the offensive zone with speed before spotting rookie D-man Connor Clifton breaking to the net. Clifton was able to throw a sand wedge lob shot on the puck and got it to float over rookie netminder Jordan Binnington for the first goal that gave the Bruins life in a 2-1 game.

They really had it going on by the time they scored the game-winner in the third period with a hard fore-check and both Acciari and Kuraly going to work down low on the St. Louis defense before an Acciari net-front dish was popped home by Kuraly. It was good, old-fashioned blue collar hockey from the B’s lunch-pail trio and it was an appropriate score to decide a game that was about much more than the fancy stuff.

“I think we’re just trying to play as hard as we can, and the role or whatever it is, is something I think that maybe other people talk about or whatever. We’re just trying to play good and play as hard as we can. We’ve got a lot of good players on the team, so it’s kind of where we’re put in the lineup,” said Kuraly. “We just want to do the best that we can for the team. We’ve got a heck of a team in there, and a lot of guys that have been around for a while, so we’re just trying to do the best that we can and wherever they want to put us is all good.”

The Bruins depth was a massive part of what got them over the Leafs in the first round, and helped them get over the hump in the second round against Columbus. Boston’s depth overwhelmed the Hurricanes in the conference final when the third and fourth lines did nearly all the damage for the Black and Gold, and that was the very same case against a deep, talented and hard-to-play against Blues bunch in Game 1.

St. Louis will get every chance to show the Game 1 loss was an outlier when the two teams line up to face each other again on Wednesday night in Game 2, but if it wasn’t, then the Blues are going to fall under the weight of Boston’s depth just like everybody else in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.  

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