The St. Louis Blues are the only team in the NHL expansion era (since 1967-68) to go from last place in the standings at any point after its 20th game of the season to make the Stanley Cup Final. They did it for the second time in their history by defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Enterprise Center on Tuesday.
The Blues also reached the Final in 1967-68, their inaugural season, after being last in the 12-team League through games played Dec. 12, 1967.
St. Louis won the best-of-7 series 4-2 and will play the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final beginning with Game 1 at TD Garden on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). It's a rematch of the 1970 Final, won by the Bruins in four games and capped by Bobby Orr's iconic Cup-winning overtime goal in Game 4.
It's the fourth trip to the Final for the Blues, but their first since facing the Bruins 49 years ago. They have never won the Cup.
Forward Vladimir Tarasenko's first-period power-play goal proved to be the game- and series-winner. Tarasenko led the Blues with eight points (three goals, five assists) in the series and had at least one point in each of the six games. He also became the third player in Blues history to score 30 Stanley Cup Playoff goals in his career. The others are Hockey Hall of Famers Brett Hull (67) and Bernie Federko (35).
Forward David Perron gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead when he scored 1:32 into the first period. It's the fifth time in the 2019 playoffs that the Blues have scored in the first two minutes of a game. They are 5-0 when doing so.
Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington made 25 saves, 10 in the third period. He's 12-7 in the playoffs with a 2.36 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and one shutout. Binnington is the fifth rookie goalie in NHL history, and first in 32 years, to earn each of his team's first 12 wins in a playoff year.
St. Louis has clinched each of its three series victories at Enterprise Center. The only teams to clinch four series on its own ice in the same playoff year are the 1988 Edmonton Oilers and 2007 Anaheim Ducks.
Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Blues heading to Stanley Cup Final
From last in NHL to best in West
The Blues, who were last in the NHL after games of Jan. 2 (15-18-4), look to continue a comeback season unlike any other in NHL history when they pursue their first Stanley Cup championship.
St. Louis is the seventh team in the expansion era to make the playoffs after being last in the NHL standings at any point after New Year's Day (minimum 20 games played). They joined the 1976-77 Minnesota North Stars, 1979-80 Oilers, 1982-83 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1987-88 Los Angeles Kings, 1987-88 Maple Leafs and 1996-97 Ottawa Senators. However, the Blues are the only team in that group to advance past the opening round.
No NHL team has gone from last place at any point after its 20th regular-season game to win the Stanley Cup. The Blues are the fifth team in the expansion era to reach the Final after being among the bottom three in the standings at any point after its 20th game. The first two instances came in 1967-68, when the two finalists -- the Blues and Montreal Canadiens -- did it. The others were the 1991 North Stars and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. The 1968 Canadiens are the only expansion-era team to win the Stanley Cup after being among the bottom three in the standings at any point after its 20th regular-season game.
The Blues are 42-17-5 (30-10-5 in the regular season, 12-7 in the playoffs) since Jan. 2.
Video: The Blues are headed to the Stanley Cup Final
1970 Final rematch
The Blues and Bruins will face off in the playoffs for the first time since 1972, when Boston swept St. Louis in the NHL Semifinals two years after the sweep in the 1970 Final. The Bruins are 8-0 in the playoffs against the Blues, outscoring them 48-15.
Boston is 66-42-11 with 18 ties in 137 regular-season games against St. Louis; the Blues are 53-66-0 with 18 ties. The teams played twice this season: The Bruins won 5-2 at TD Garden on Jan. 17 and the Blues won 2-1 in a shootout at Enterprise Center on Feb. 23, ending Boston's seven-game winning streak.
Bruins forward David Backes will be playing against the team that selected him in the second round (No. 62) of the 2003 NHL Draft. Backes had 460 points (206 goals, 254 assists) in 727 NHL games during 10 seasons with St. Louis and was captain from 2011-16 before signing as a free agent with the Bruins on July 1, 2016.
Listen: Stanley Cup Final preview from NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast