EditorsNote: write-thru with quotes and details to come
BOSTON — To the Boston Bruins, the reaction of St. Louis Blues forward Tyler Bozak after tripping Noel Acciari in the third period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final said it all.
Bozak immediately threw his hands up to protest a penalty that was never called. Moments later, David Perron scored what would be the game-winning goal with 9:24 to play as the Blues came away with a 2-1 victory Thursday to move one win away from their first Stanley Cup title.
The Blues carry a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series into Game 6 in St. Louis on Sunday.
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 38 saves in a brilliant performance, but after the game, most the focus was paid toward the missed call and its effect on the outcome of such a pivotal contest.
“Yeah, it is frustrating,”said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. “Especially with what’s at stake. Bottom line, you have to be ready for Game 6. That’s all we can focus on.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t as quick to move on. Like some of his players, he pointed the finger further back to Blues coach Craig Berube calling out the officiating following his team’s 7-2 loss in Game 3 as the real turning point of the series.
“There was a complaint or whatever put forth by the opposition that seems to have changed everything,” Cassidy said. “The non-call on Acciari ... it was egregious.”
Berube disagreed with the idea that his comments changed the narrative.
“I’m not here to judge the officials and calls that could have been or couldn’t have been,” he said. “They go both ways. I mean, there’s calls the other way that could have been called and they weren’t, so I don’t know what to say about that. I really don’t want to say anything about it.”
Regardless of their frustration, the Bruins made it a game late when Jake DeBrusk scored with 6:28 remaining in the third period to make it 2-1. But Binnington, who was tested from the start, held firm the rest of the way.
“We just battled it out, trusted each other, stayed with it and got better as the game went on,” said Binnington, who tied the NHL rookie record for most wins by a goaltender in a single postseason with his 15th.
Tuukka Rask had 19 saves in the loss for Boston.
No doubt energized by the presence of captain Zdeno Chara — who played despite sustaining a reported broken jaw on a puck to the face during the second period of Game 4 — the Bruins came out firing in the first period, outshooting the Blues 17-8.
However, St. Louis broke through just 55 seconds into the second period. Positioned in front of the net, Ryan O’Reilly backhanded the puck over the glove of Rask off a through-the-legs feed from Zach Sanford.
Forward David Krejci kept it a 1-0 game with a desperation save late in the second period. The Bruins nearly tied it when they got a puck on the goal line with 13 minutes left in the third, but replay confirmed Binnington never let it get over the threshold.
Perron’s controversial goal came less than three minutes later to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
“Yeah, I know there’s something I guess the fans weren’t too happy with,” said Perron in reference to the crowd’s reaction of throwing rally towels and trash onto the ice in protest of the call.
“Obviously, when people expect things to go a certain way and it doesn’t, you know, stuff happens,” added Bozak, who described his getting tangled up with Acciari as a “puck battle.”
With Chara on the mend, the Bruins dressed seven defensemen, Steven Kampfer subbing for forward David Backes. Matt Grzelcyk, a game-time decision after returning to practice Wednesday for the first time since sustaining a concussion in Game 2, was once again out of the lineup.
-By Kyle Brasseur, Field Level Media