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Stanley Cup Final

Blues energized by spirit of St. Louis in first home Cup Final victory

Credit fans after Game 4 win against Bruins evens series

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

ST. LOUIS -- The party spilled outside Enterprise Center and onto Market Street on Monday after the St. Louis Blues' 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the first home win in the Cup Final in the team's 52-year history.

But it wasn't a sing-along to the victory anthem "Gloria." As the song played in the background, thousands of fans in Blues gear, at least one holding aloft a replica Stanley Cup, chanted to the beat, growing louder and louder and louder.



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The best-of-7 series is tied entering Game 5 in Boston on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) after the Blues rebounded from a 7-2 loss in Game 3 with a disciplined, dominant performance.

Oh, and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara's status is uncertain after he took a puck in the mouth early in the second period and didn't play the rest of the game.

"It's been a long time, right?" Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "The city's been waiting a long time for this. We weren't too proud of last game, so we really had to grab it and get ready for tonight. But you can see the buzz around the city. …

"It's what this city's about, right? Great sports city. Underrated sports city, in my opinion. Fans are great, and they never gave up on us all year. Didn't give up on us here in the playoffs. We've been down, and they just keep on cheering, keep on supporting us. We'll put on the best effort we can for them."

Video: Melrose and Hradek wrap up Game 4 from St. Louis

The Blues might have been too emotional in Game 3 after all the buildup to the first Cup Final game in St. Louis since 1970. After giving the Bruins five power plays in each of the first two games, they gave them four more. The Bruins made them pay by going 4-for-4 on four shots.

This time, the Blues gave them two power plays and killed them both. Staying out of the penalty box allowed them to roll four lines, establish their forecheck and spend more time in the offensive zone. They outshot Boston 38-23 and had 62.03 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts.

All night, the Blues won races. On the winning goal, Pietrangelo took a rising slap shot that hit goalie Tuukka Rask high. Center Ryan O'Reilly had inside position on defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and when the rebound popped out, he was in the right spot to pop it in at 10:38 of the third period.

Video: BOS@STL, Gm4: O'Reilly beats Rask for second tally

Fans in the lower bowl stood the rest of the game as the Blues kept hemming the Bruins in their end. Finally, center Brayden Schenn scored into an empty net at 18:31. The sound might have rattled the Gateway Arch.

"We were relentless, I thought, tonight," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Like, we didn't stop for 60 minutes. That's how I look at the game. Guys were just hounding pucks and on pucks and working and reloading and doing all the little things right. Line changes were great, getting fresh people out there. It was just a pretty good game all around."

The defense is the big question now for Boston.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Chara took stitches, was very uncomfortable and was advised not to play. Chara asked to be with his teammates, put on a face shield and sat on the bench for the third period. He'll probably need dental work. Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk hasn't played since taking a hit to the head in Game 2, and his status also is uncertain for Game 5.

But that isn't the only question.

The line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for seven 5-on-5 shot attempts in Game 4. The line of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and David Backes generated five. The line of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen generated four. The line of Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Noel Accari generated two.

"Personally, I think our forwards got to do a way better job with our [defense] out," Cassidy said. "The onus has to go on them. They've got to pull their weight in terms of puck support and helping out the [defense], finishing some plays. We had some lines tonight with very few shot attempts. To rely on a 2-1 game, we can win those games, but they're going to have to pull their weight, especially if these guys are out. That's just the way it is. That's the hand we're dealt."

Video: Ryan O'Reilly does it all in Blues 4-2 Game 4 victory

In the Western Conference Final, the Blues lost Game 1, won Game 2, lost Game 3 and then won three straight. They wore down the Sharks, who were slowed by injuries. Now in the Cup Final, the pattern is starting to repeat.

"Every year we keep hearing, 'Let's go to the Final. Let's go win the Cup,' " Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. "People believe in us. They give us a really big emotional boost. Driving around the city, you see 'Let's go Blues' everywhere. It's just unbelievable time, so let's make it happen."


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