Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington shined in a 32-save performance as the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the finals Wednesday for their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. The championship ends a 52-year drought for the Blues, the longest wait for the first title in NHL history. St. Louis, which completed a full turnaround from the last place in the league as recently as Jan. 2, matched the single-postseason record for road wins with its 10th.
Binnington, 25, became the first rookie to win all 16 of his team's games in a single playoff. He's the 14th freshman to earn a Stanley Cup-clinching win and forth to do so in a Game 7. Ryan O'Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo scored late in the first period for the Blues, and Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford each scored in the third for a 4-0 lead.
Tuukka Rask had 16 stops for the Bruins in the loss. Matt Grzelcyk scored with Rask pulled with 2:10 remaining. Binnington's strong play continued into the third as he kept the Bruins from scoring on several early chances. Schenn's goal came with 8:35 remaining, and Sanford's tally, his first of the playoffs, hit the net at 15:22.
While Binnington was on his game, his offence got off to a slow start, held without a shot for more than 16 minutes after getting the first of the game 27 seconds in. O'Reilly got St. Louis on the board on a redirect of a Jay Bouwmeester shot through the legs of Rask at 16:47.
O'Reilly's goal marked the fourth straight game he opened the scoring for St. Louis, putting him alongside Toronto's Sid Smith (1951) and Detroit's Norm Ullman (1966) as the only players to accomplish that feat during the finals. He's the first player with goals in four straight Stanley Cup Final games since Wayne Gretzky in 1985. Following the game, O'Reilly was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded the most valuable player of the playoffs.
The Blues struck again little more than three minutes later when Schwartz passed back to a wide-open Pietrangelo, who put one over the shoulder of Rask on the backhand with eight seconds left in the period for a 2-0 lead. St. Louis was outshot 12-4 in the first and 11-6 in a scoreless second period.
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