The Stanley Cup Final returns to St. Louis 17,924 days after the last such game when the St. Louis Blues host the Boston Bruins in Game 3 at Enterprise Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). It's the first Cup Final game in St. Louis since May 5, 1970, when the Bruins defeated the Blues 6-2 at St. Louis Arena in Game 2 on the way to a four-game sweep.
The Bruins and Blues split the first two games of the 2019 Final at TD Garden, with the Blues evening the best-of-7 series with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 on Wednesday. It was their first victory in 14 Stanley Cup Final games since entering the NHL for the 1967-68 season.
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The journey the Blues have taken to the Cup Final has been unlike any other in pro sports since the NHL expanded to 12 teams in 1967-68. St. Louis is the only team in any of the four major North American sports leagues during that time to be last overall in the league standings after one-quarter or more of the season's games and qualify to play for that league's championship. The Blues were 31st in the NHL standings on Jan. 3 before having the League's best record from that point until the end of the season (30-10-5). They finished third in the Central Division and 12th overall, then won three playoff series in the same year for the first time to reach the Cup Final.
Game 2 of the Cup Final was the 17th of 82 games in this year's playoffs to go into overtime, and the first in the Final since 2016. Including this year, seven of the past 10 Cup Final series have had at least one overtime game; in five of the 10, more than one game was decided in OT.
Video: STL@BOS, Gm2: Gunnarsson wins it for Blues in OT
Four of the 17 overtime goals this postseason have been scored by defensemen, including each of the past two. Carl Gunnarsson of the Blues scored 3:51 into OT to defeat the Bruins on Wednesday, and Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks scored in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Blues. In the first round, John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars (Game 6, first round, Nashville Predators) and Brooks Orpik of the Washington Capitals (Game 2, first round, Carolina Hurricanes) scored in overtime.
Before Gunnarsson's goal, the Blues and Bruins had gotten each of their overtime goals this postseason from hometown players. St. Louis native Pat Maroon scored 15:50 into the second overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 win against the Stars in Game 7 of the second round, and Charlie Coyle, a native of East Weymouth, Massachusetts, got the winner 5:15 into OT to give Boston a 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the second round. Coyle has seven goals to become the highest-scoring Massachusetts-born Bruins player ever in a postseason; John Carter (Winchester) and Bob Sweeney (Concord) had six goals in 1990 and 1988, respectively.
Schwartz continues to produce for Blues
Forward Jaden Schwartz had an assist in each of the first two games of the Cup Final and leads the Blues with 18 points (12 goals, six assists). He is three shy of the Blues' record for points in one playoff year, set by Doug Gilmour in 1986 (21 points; nine goals, 12 assists) and matched by Brett Hull in 1990 (21 points; 13 goals, eight assists). Schwartz has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 13 regular-season and playoff games against the Bruins.
Video: Energy high for Schwartz, Blues after Game 2 OT win
Alexander Steen, who has 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 82 postseason games, is making his first appearance in the Cup Final. His father, Thomas Steen, had 44 points (12 goals, 32 assists) played in 56 Stanley Cup Playoff games during his 14-season NHL career, but never reached the Final.
Chara climbs playoff games played list
Though Bruins captain Zdeno Chara did not appear in a playoff game until 2002, the 42-year-old defenseman ranks seventh in postseason games played (177) since he entered the NHL during the 1997-98 season. Chara will tie Chris Kunitz (178) when he steps on the ice for Game 3; if the series goes the full seven games and he plays in each, Chara would end the playoffs with 182, moving him up to third behind Marian Hossa (205) and Patrick Marleau (191).