The St. Louis Blues became the first team in the NHL expansion era (since 1967-68) to win the Stanley Cup after ranking last in the overall standings at any point after their 30th game when they defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on Wednesday. It's the first championship for the Blues since entering the NHL in 1967 and ended a roller-coaster season that was unlike any in the four major North American pro sports leagues since they joined the NHL.
[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]
The Blues were last in the NHL standings through games of Jan. 2 (15-18-4, 34 points). They also became the first team from any of the four major North American sports leagues since 1967-68 to win a title after being last following at least one quarter of that season's games. They are the only such team during that span to qualify for its league's championship series or game.
The Blues ended the longest wait in NHL history (51 seasons) for a team to win its first championship. They passed the Los Angeles Kings, who won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 2011-12, their 44th season. St. Louis also surpassed Los Angeles for the most regular-season games (4,046) and total games (4,437) played before winning the Cup for the first time. The Kings won in 2012 after playing 3,506 regular-season games and 3,708 games overall.
St. Louis also has the most postseason appearances (42), series (72) and games (391) before winning the Stanley Cup for the first time. The Washington Capitals, who won the Cup last year after 28 playoff appearances, 47 series and 275 games, held that distinction until Wednesday.
Home away from home
St. Louis is the fourth straight team, fifth in the past seven years and ninth in 12 years to clinch the Stanley Cup on the road. Overall, the Cup has been won on the road 43 of the 100 times it has been awarded since the founding of the NHL in 1917. The Blues are the seventh team in NHL history, but first since the 2000 New Jersey Devils, to win three road games in the Cup Final.
The Blues are 10-8 in Game 7s, including 5-6 on the road. The NHL record for Game 7 wins as the visiting team is six, shared by the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-0) and Montreal Canadiens (6-6).
St. Louis won the Cup after finishing 12th in the regular-season standings, only the 2012 Kings (13th) won after finishing lower. They also the fourth team in the modern era (since 1943-44) to win the Cup without a player who had previously won an NHL title on its roster, joining the 1974 Philadelphia Flyers, 1980 New York Islanders and 1989 Calgary Flames.
Video: Relive each Blues goal from the 2019 postseason
Conn Smythe winner O'Reilly makes history
Blues center Ryan O'Reilly, who led all players in the Stanley Cup Final in points (nine) and goals (five) won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. O'Reilly tied for the playoff scoring lead with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists), matching Boston forward Brad Marchand (nine goals, 14 assists)
O'Reilly, acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on July 1, 2018, became the first skater in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (first awarded in 1965) in his first season with a new team. He's also the third player, regardless of position, to do so, joining goalies Glenn Hall in 1968 (with St. Louis) and Bernie Parent in 1974 (with Philadelphia).
He's the first player on any team to have at least nine points in a single Stanley Cup Final since 2010, when Philadelphia's Daniel Briere (12), Scott Hartnell (nine) and Ville Leino (nine) all did so. O'Reilly also concluded the postseason on a four-game goal streak, the longest by anyone in the Cup Final since Edmonton Oilers forward Wayne Gretzky scored in four straight games in 1985. O'Reilly had at least one point in each of the final six games in the Cup Final, the longest point streak by anyone in the Cup Final since New York Rangers center Mark Messier in 1994.
Video: STL@BOS, Gm7: O'Reilly receives Conn Smythe Trophy
Binnington gets name in record book
Jordan Binnington became the first rookie goalie in NHL history to earn each of his team's 16 victories en route to winning a Stanley Cup championship. The 25-year-old finished the postseason with a 2.46 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and one shutout in 26 games. Ten of his victories came on the road, tying the record for most by a goalie in one playoff season. He equaled Martin Brodeur of the Devils (10-1 in 1995, 10-2 in 2000), Jonathan Quick of the Kings (10-1 in 2012), Braden Holtby of the Capitals (10-3 in 2018) and Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames (10-4 in 2004).
The Game 7 victory marked the eighth time that Binnington got a win after losing the previous game. That tied the record for one playoff season set by Ron Hextall of the Flyers in 1987 (8-2) and matched by Kiprusoff (8-3) and Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (8-0) in 2004.
Binnington also became the fourth rookie goalie to win Game 7 in the Cup Final, joining Frank McCool of the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs, Ken Dryden of the 1971 Canadiens and Cam Ward of the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes.
Video: STL@BOS, Gm7: Binnington dazzles in Game 7 victory