In the more than 100 years of the National Hockey League, there has never been a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final played in Boston.
That will change Wednesday night.
The Bruins and St. Louis Blues will meet for hockey’s ultimate prize at the TD Garden in a the Stanley Cup Final Game 7 for the ages.
This is happening because the Bruins went into St. Louis Sunday night and, with their playoff lives hanging in the balance, got better with each ensuing period and scored four times over the last 20 minutes to prevail, 5-1, in a do-or-die Game 6.
The Stanley Cup was on hand at the Enterprise Center, but remained locked away in its case after the Black-and-Gold emerged victorious.
On Wednesday night, it’ll be coming out and awarded either to the Bruins for the second time in nine seasons, for the first time in the Blues’ 52-year history.
Boston put itself in this position with a focus that never wavered. They were credited with 16 blocked shots, 27 hits and 32 shots on Blues rookie netminder Jordan Binnington.
They were not perfect — losing the faceoff battle (37 to 26) and getting hemmed in their own zone for long stretches of play during the first period.
But they did much better against the St. Louis forecheck with each passing shift, winning puck battles and giving themselves the opportunity to both create scoring chances at one end and prevent them at the other.
It was beleaguered Brad Marchand scoring a big 5-on-3 power play goal in the first period, burying a one-time feed from David Pastrnak from the low slot for an early 1-0 lead. He still hasn’t scored an even strength goal in the Final, but that mattered not; when he has tallied during these playoffs, the Bruins are a perfect 7-0 (and 24-1 all-time).
It was a sign of things to come. Rask — who is 3-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in elimination games this postseason — stopped all nine shots he saw in that first period and another 10 in the middle stanza.
By staying calm in the face of Blues’ pressure, he both inspired his teammates and kept his squad on the right side of the scoreboard.
When a fluky shot from defenseman Brandon Carlo two-and-a-half minutes into the third period took a few hops and shot under Binnington’s right arm and into the net, the Boston lead doubled. It was Carlo’s second goal in as many games in The Gateway City; he finished the night with a plus-3 rating and was his usual lockdown self defensively.
All of the moves that head coach Bruce Cassidy made seemed to work. On this evening, it was putting winger Karson Kuhlman — who hadn’t played in 38 days — into the lineup to give his team a dozen forwards and six defenseman, not the 11-7 format they used during Game 5.
The move paid off handsomely as the speedy forechecker played 13 strong minutes and scored an enormous goal with less than 10 minutes to go, upping Boston’s lead to 3-0.
Kuhlman’s goal made him the 21st different Bruin to rip the twine this postseason, tying an NHL record for one playoff year.
Ryan O’Reilly gave the home team and their fans some hope by sneaking one past Rask with eight minutes to go, but Pastrnak quickly erased those dreams two minutes later with (yes!) an even strength goal, his first of the Final.
Zdeno Chara, the 42-year-old captain playing his second straight game after suffering a broken jaw in Game 4 in this same building, officially put the clamps down on his team’s triumph with an empty netter. He became the oldest player to score a goal in Stanley Cup Final history, further adding to his already overflowing legacy.
What St. Louis did on this night, besides pass up a chance to win the Cup on home ice, was to give the Bruins the momentum back.
Momentum they hope to carry with them into Game 7 and straight through to the final horn, culminating with sticks and gloves being strewn all over the TD Garden ice as they celebrate their second Stanley Cup championship of the decade.
Phil Stacey covers the Boston Bruins for CNHI Sports Boston. Contact him at email@example.com or @PhilStacey_SN