Blues beat Sharks, march on to Stanley Cup Final
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues are marching into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in decades.
David Perron had a goal and an assist, Jordan Binnington picked up his franchise-record 12th playoff win and the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference final Tuesday night.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak also scored for St. Louis, which will face the Boston Bruins for the championship. Ivan Barbashev got an empty-netter with 2:15 left, Ryan O’Reilly had three assists and Binnington stopped 25 shots.
St. Louis won three consecutive games to advance to the franchise’s first Cup Final since 1970. That series also pitted the Blues against the Bruins.
Game 1 is Monday night in Boston.
Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” blared over the speakers at the Blues’ home arena after the latest victory on an improbable run from last in the NHL Jan. 3 to one of the last two teams standing. The turnaround came after Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as coach in November and Binnington took over as the starting goaltender in January.
San Jose played without injured forwards Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl and defenseman Erik Karlsson. Injury attrition played a role for the Sharks, who played seven games in each of the first two rounds.
Dylan Gambrell scored his first career goal for San Jose, which lost for the first time in five elimination games this postseason. Martin Jones made 14 stops.
St. Louis grabbed control with a fast start.
Perron tipped in Sammy Blais’ shot just 92 seconds into the game. Tarasenko made it 2-0 with a well-placed wrist shot at 16:16.
Tarasenko got his eighth goal of the postseason just seven seconds after San Jose forward Barclay Goodrow was sent off for tripping. Tarasenko recorded a point in each game of the series.
Gambrell converted a breakaway along the right wing 6:40 into the second period. Joonas Donskoi set up the play with a long stretch pass.
Gambrell’s goal came just seconds after Jones stopped Pat Maroon from close range. It also stopped the Sharks’ scoring drought at 99 minutes, 32 seconds.
Schenn pushed the lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal 12:47 into the second. He pounced on the rebound of a shot by Alex Pietrangelo for his first goal in 14 games.
Bozak scored on a feed from Perron in the third period for a 4-1 lead.
Binnington improved to 12-7 with his second successive strong effort. He made 21 saves in a 5-0 win in Game 4 on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Binnington stopped Evander Kane on the doorstep midway through the third. He also denied Logan Couture on a breakaway later in the period.
NOTES: St. Louis went 0-12 in its three previous Stanley Cup appearances. … The team that scored first won all six games. … Referee Wes McCauley left in the first period with a lower-body injury. He was replaced by alternate Gord Dwyer. … St. Louis D Vince Dunn missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. He took a puck to the mouth in the first period of Game 3. … St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina attended the game after the Cardinals’ matchup with Kansas City was rained out. … The Blues have set a franchise record for postseason wins with 12.
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Thanksgiving seems to be ever-present here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’m not talking turkey and gravy, I’m speaking to the gifts we receive constantly, throughout the seasons.