St. Louis Blues forward Pat Maroon and Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop each grew up in St. Louis. Fate put them at the opposite end of celebration and heartbreak after Maroon tapped the puck past Bishop 5:50 into the second overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 victory against Bishop and the Stars in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round on Tuesday.
The second installment of "Quest For The Stanley Cup," which debuts Friday at 6 p.m. ET exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States and YouTube.com/NHL in Canada, gives viewers an inside look at the players and coaches from the eight teams that made it past the first round of the playoffs this season. That includes Maroon, whose series-winning goal puts the Blues into the Western Conference Final and sends the Stars home for the summer despite a 52-save performance by Bishop that takes place in front of a suite of mostly green-clad friends and family members, a rarity among the packed house at Enterprise Center.
The presence of a hometown boy trying to end the season for the local team presents problems for some of those watching in the suite.
"There are a lot of people here who are on the fence," Bishop's father says. "They want to root for Ben, but they also want to root for the Blues."
At the same time Bishop is consoled by his teammates, Maroon gets a standing ovation when he enters the locker room before St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo flips the game puck to "the hometown boy who scored the big goal in Game 7."
One night later, the Blues learn they'll be playing the San Jose Sharks in the conference final. After the Colorado Avalanche extend their second-round series with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6, the Sharks get to celebrate with a 3-2 win in front of their fans in Game 7. The return of forward and captain Joe Pavelski, who has missed the first six games of the series with an injury, gives the Sharks a jolt, as does the goal he scores less than six minutes into the first period. But the third period belongs to San Jose goalie Martin Jones, who holds off the desperate Avalanche until the final horn sounds.
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Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly is another hometown boy whose team made the second round. The native of Dublin, Ohio, talks about getting to skate at the Ohio IceHaus, the Columbus Blue Jackets practice facility, as a kid, noting that "any time you could sneak a peek at a Blue Jacket was a big event."
The Blue Jackets and Kuraly see plenty of each other duringi Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round. Though Kuraly's apparent first-period goal is disallowed, he's a part of Boston's series-clinching 3-0 win against the team he grew up watching.
It's the 13th playoff game in 26 days for the Bruins, who had to go seven games to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.
"Let's enjoy this one, then it's on to Carolina," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy tells his tired players.
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The Bruins will see a well-rested Carolina Hurricanes team in the Eastern Conference Final. After Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin says he and his teammates "have to keep playing like we've been playing" in their second-round series against the New York Islanders, Carolina does just that in a 5-2 win that completes a four-game sweep.
But as all four survivors have rediscovered, there are no secrets, no shortcuts to their ultimate objective: the Stanley Cup.