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Stanley Cup Final

Pietrangelo inspired by 'three little angels,' leads Blues in Cup Final

Captain, father of triplets has new perspective chasing championship against Bruins

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

BOSTON -- A trip home to St. Louis with two days between games in the Stanley Cup Final gives Alex Pietrangelo a chance to get back to his new normal.

The St. Louis Blues captain will be greeted by his "three little miracles." 

"If you have kids, you know what it's like," Pietrangelo said. "It's the best thing to ever happen to you. It puts things into perspective when you're a parent."

 

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Pietrangelo's wife, Jayne, gave birth to triplets Evelyn, Oliver and Theodore on July 20. 

Jayne has been handling everything at home while her husband chases his dream as leader of the Blues, who tied the best-of-7 series against the Boston Bruins with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 2 at TD Garden on Wednesday, the first Cup Final win in St. Louis history.

Game 3 is at Enterprise Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS), but before that, Pietrangelo will get some time at home, time he cherishes now more than ever because of the kids he and Jayne never expected.

The Pietrangelos lost an unborn son they named Gabriel because of complications with Jayne's pregnancy June 15, 2017. Gabriel was due to be born six months later. 

Then Jayne experienced another miscarriage.

"And then, boom, three kids," Pietrangelo said. "Three little angels."

He vividly remembers the day he and Jayne found out she was carrying triplets.

"You know when you go in for the scan," he said. "So it was one, two, and oh wait, there is a third. I'm not going to tell you what I said. You can't write what I said. But you deal with it and it's the greatest thing. It's even better than I ever imagined. It makes me happy every day."

Pietrangelo needed the happiness after experiencing so much loss.

Video: Pietrangelo's strong defensive play leads the Blues

It sounds trivial because nobody confuses the level of importance between parenting and hockey, but Evelyn, Oliver and Theodore helped Pietrangelo get through the rough times he and the Blues experienced in the first half of this season too.

The Blues were last in the NHL standings Jan. 3. As their captain, Pietrangelo was feeling the heat, especially after last season, when St. Louis missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011.

"There was a lot on his plate, but he was able to put it all in its proper perspective and lead us at the most important time of the year," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "And the way he's leading us now, it's only going to make him a better captain moving forward."

In a way, the early part of this season reminded Pietrangelo of what he went through in the early part of his career after the Blues selected him with the No. 4 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft.

He returned to the Ontario Hockey League after playing eight games with the Blues in the 2008-09 season and again after playing nine games in 2009-10. It's not often a player is sent back to juniors twice, but the Blues didn't think Pietrangelo was ready.

"It's not an easy thing to go through as a young player," Pietrangelo said. "You're the young guy and you want to come up and play. That was a tough thing to go through, but I think it made me a better player. It made me stronger facing a little bit adversity and it made me learn that I had to get better to play at this level. I did that."

Along the way, Pietrangelo learned how to lead too. Part of that is adapting, which his former coach Ken Hitchcock said he has done.

"The thing I like about Alex is that he's such a principled guy and it bothered him a lot if you weren't team-first to the point when he was younger there were times he couldn't function properly because he didn't feel people were buying in as deep as you should," Hitchcock said. "He's learned over time to manage that. Not everybody thinks the same all the time and people buy in at different levels and in different ways. He had to become more patient in that and he did. I think it's made him a much better leader."

This season, though, Pietrangelo knew he couldn't have patience. He realized he couldn't accept anything less than complete buy-in from himself and his teammates if the Blues were going to pull out of the NHL cellar to get to where they are now, three wins away from winning the Stanley Cup for the first time.

It helped that he formed a bond with Blues coach Craig Berube, who replaced Mike Yeo on Nov. 19. 

"We see things the exact same way," Pietrangelo said. "We are both direct. If I've got something to say and if he's got something to say we just air it out and move on. A bit of a breath of fresh air when he came in."

It showed in Pietrangelo's game. 

Like the Blues, he had a tough first half with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) and a minus-8 rating in 26 games through Jan. 2, when St. Louis was 15-18-4, 11 points out of a playoff spot. He also missed 11 games with an upper-body injury from Dec. 1-27.

Pietrangelo had 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) and a plus-10 rating in the final 45 games. The Blues went 30-10-5, the best record in the NHL, and finished third in the Central Division with 99 points, 13 clear of the Arizona Coyotes, who were ninth in the Western Conference.

In the playoffs, Pietrangelo leads Blues defensemen with 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) while averaging a team-high 25:31 of ice time in 21 games.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm6: Pietrangelo nets shot through traffic

"I've been through a lot," Pietrangelo said. "Obviously, you learn and you mature through experience. It only makes you stronger. It's hard to think like that when you're going through it, but it's made me a stronger leader."

Maybe a stronger parent too.

"He has a purpose to play now," Hitchcock said. "He's playing for other people now and I think it's really enhanced his game. It's more than just about Alex and it's more than just about hockey."

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