(Reuters) – The Boston Bruins overcame a sluggish start and erased a two-goal deficit to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 and draw first blood in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Final on Monday.
The host Bruins used a dominant second period to tie the game and grabbed their first lead of the night when Sean Kuraly corralled a cross-ice pass with his foot and tapped the puck in the Blues net five minutes into the third period.
Brad Marchand added an empty-net goal with two minutes to play to seal a victory that gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven games championship series.
“We want to elevate our game and tonight we started a little low so it wasn’t that hard to elevate,” said Kuraly. “But I think we did elevate and we are going to have to keep getting better because this (Blues) team is not going anywhere.”
Boston, who had a 10-day layoff after sweeping Carolina in the Eastern Conference final, looked out of sorts early and were staring at a two-goal deficit when Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored one minute into the second period.
The Bruins, bolstered by their fourth line, stormed back 76 seconds later when a cross-ice pass from Kuraly deflected off rookie defenseman Connor Clifton’s skate and into the Blues net.
Boston tied the game on the powerplay when Charlie McAvoy fired a wrister from the slot under the glove of Blues goalie Jordan Binnington with seven minutes left in the second.
“They are awesome, they are spark plugs,” McAvoy said of his team’s fourth line. “They play physical, they are fun to watch, they play responsible. And every night you are going to get it from them, and to see them step up in the Stanley Cup Final, all three of them, it’s awesome.”
St. Louis forward Brayden Schenn opened the scoring seven minutes into the game, a dream start for a Blues team that were dead last in the NHL in early January but remarkably now find themselves playing for a maiden Stanley Cup championship.
St. Louis reached the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three years of existence from 1968-70 but were swept each time, including by the Bruins in 1970.
They looked headed for their first game win in a Cup final after a solid first period but were undone by a combination of turnovers and undisciplined penalties.
“First period was good. I thought we did a lot of good things,” Blues head coach Craig Berube told reporters.
“Second period we stopped skating, stopped moving the puck, turned it over and gave them momentum, and plus the penalties didn’t help.”
The series resumes on Wednesday in Boston.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford)