BOSTON — With downtime before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final went to overtime, St. Louis Blues defender Carl Gunnarsson didn’t dwell on his shot that rang off the crossbar late in the third period of the tied contest.
Instead, he ran into his coach, Craig Berube, in the bathroom, as Berube explained to his team after the game, and told him he needed just one more shot to send St. Louis to its first-ever win in the finals.
Regardless of whether Berube believed him (or the location), the coach liked what he heard. And he liked it even more when Gunnarsson got that shot and didn’t miss.
The 32-year-old defenseman scored his first career playoff goal 3:51 into the extra period on a slap shot from the blue line as the Blues evened the best-of-seven finals with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
The decisive goal, which came on a delayed penalty against Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, gave the Blues their first finals win in 14 chances. That added importance wasn’t lost on Gunnarsson, who didn’t feel as if where he called his shot took away from the narrative.
“I can’t deny that,” Gunnarsson said when asked about the restroom comment. “That’s where it happened, so that makes it even more fun, I guess. It’s a good story.”
An even better story for the Blues is that they return to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday with the series tied a game apiece, thanks to Gunnarsson.
“I’m really happy for him,” Berube said. “He felt good about himself, obviously, which he should have.”
The defeat snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Bruins, who got 34 saves from goaltender Tuukka Rask.
“It probably wasn’t our best game today,” Rask said. “You know the better team always wins, so they were the better team today.”
Jordan Binnington stopped 21 shots for St. Louis, which controlled the puck despite taking five penalties for the second straight game. Boston didn’t even get a shot in overtime.
“They definitely were a step up from last game,” Bruins center Charlie Coyle said. “We knew they were going to come out and do that, and they did it well.”
Prior to overtime, all the game’s goals had been scored in the first period.
An unmanned Coyle chipped the puck through Binnington’s pads to score on the power play for a 1-0 Bruins lead at 4:44.
St. Louis countered less than five minutes later, but Boston answered immediately. After Robert Bortuzzo knotted the score on a shot from the boards with Pat Maroon screening at 9:37, Joakim Nordstrom took advantage of a turnover by David Perron to restore the Bruins’ lead, 2-1, on a backhand goal at 10:17.
The Blues tied the game 2-2 when Vladimir Tarasenko converted a juicy rebound off a Jaden Schwartz shot on a two-on-one at 14:55. The goal extended Tarasenko’s points streak to eight games, one short of the team’s playoff record (Tony Currie, 1981).
Things got testy late in the first period after St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist sent Matt Grzelcyk to the ice on a penalized hit into the boards. Boston failed to score on the resulting two-minute minor, and Grzelcyk did not return.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said postgame that Grzelcyk went to the hospital for testing but provided no further update.
The Bruins killed off two penalties in the second, including a double minor when Connor Clifton got Tyler Bozak with a high stick with 4:21 left. Schwartz was whistled for goaltender interference during the second half of the four-minute power play.
St. Louis also had to kill off two penalties in the middle period, then one in the third period.
Tarasenko missed a handful of shifts in the second period due to an equipment issue.
–By Kyle Brasseur, Field Level Media