St. Louis Blues win first Stanley Cup in franchise history
The St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo lifts the Stanley Cup after the team won its first championship in franchise history, beating the Boston Bruins in seven games.
The longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history is over.
The St. Louis Blues won the first Stanley Cup in the franchise’s 52-season history with a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night at Boston’s TD Garden in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Blues had gone the longest of any franchise in league history before winning their first Stanley Cup. St. Louis was part of the first expansion in modern NHL history in 1967-68, when they were one of six teams to make their debut (the others were the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Oakland Seals), and the league doubled in size.
Ironically, the Blues reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their first three seasons, 1968-1970 – all of the expansion teams were in the West Division – but were swept in four games on each occasion, with the Bruins doing the honors in 1970 on their way to the Cup.
“This means so much to our city,” St. Louis native Patrick Maroon told Sportsnet’s Scott Oake after the game. “… 49 years in the making, and we did it tonight.”
A sellout crowd of 18,500 watched and celebrated at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis and, despite rain, more than 30,000 more did the same at Busch Stadium, the home of baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals.
It was also an improbable Cup win for the Blues, who had the league’s worst record on Jan. 3. But Jordan Binnington, who had been No. 4 on the team’s goaltender depth chart at the beginning of the season, got his first NHL start on Jan. 7 and shut out the Flyers 3-0 in Philadelphia, and St. Louis was on its way.
A trip by many of the Blues players to a South Philadelphia bar the night before spawned a theme song for the team – the 1982 pop hit “Gloria” by Laura Brannigan.
“It’s been a helluva run,” said forward Jaden Schwartz.
Binnington made 32 saves on Wednesday night, including several of the spectacular variety.
“He was unbelievable in the first period (when Boston outshot St. Louis 12-4), he made incredible saves,” said center Ryan O’Reilly, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP.
O’Reilly opened the scoring with 3:13 left in the first period by tipping in defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s shot from the point. He also had an assist.
O’Reilly’s 23 points tied the Bruins’ Brad Marchand as the playoffs’ top scorer and broke the Blues team record for the most points in one playoff year. The goal was O’Reilly’s eighth of the playoffs. He scored in the last four Cup Final games to become the first player since Wayne Gretzky in 1985 to have a goal in four consecutive Stanley Cup Finals contests.
O’Reilly is also a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which goes to the league’s top defensive forward.
Defenseman and captain Alex Pietrangelo made it 2-0 with just eight seconds remaining in the first.
“I don’t think it has sunk in yet,” he said. “But I’m so proud of this group. It’s unbelievable.”
Pietrangelo, who grew up idolizing Red Wings great and Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom, also had an assist.
Brayden Schenn scored with 8:35 left and Zach Sanford added a goal with 4:38 remaining.
Matt Grzelcyk averted the shutout for Boston with 2:10 left and goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 16 saves, was pulled for the extra attacker.
“Every day was a new day for us this year,” Pietrangelo said. “That’s why we’re here.”
Blues’ 11-year-old superfan Laila Anderson was at the TD Garden to watch the team win the Stanley Cup in person.
Anderson, who has a rare disease, had been limited to trips to the hospital before being allowed to attend a Blues home playoff game earlier in the playoffs.
The team flew Laila and her mother to Boston and provided them tickets to the game.
Maroon told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Laila “has been an inspiration to all of us throughout the year.”