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Stanley Cup Final

Sanford boosts Blues again in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final

Forward, who grew up a Bruins fan, has assist for third straight game in series

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Zach Sanford was born in Salem, Massachusetts, a 30-minute drive from TD Garden, and attended Boston Bruins games as a child with his father, Michael, who died of a heart attack before this season.

Rooting for the Bruins has long been part of life for the St. Louis Blues forward and his family. Just ask his mother, Cindy, who caught herself cheering for the Bruins when they scored earlier in the Stanley Cup Final against the Blues.

Sanford, who had to remind his mom which team he plays for, was on the TD Garden ice for the first time as a visiting player Thursday and assisted on a goal by Ryan O'Reilly. His third assist in as many games in the Final helped St. Louis to a 2-1 win in Game 5 that gave it the lead in the best-of-7 series. 

 

[WATCH: Blues vs. Bruins Game 5 highlights | Complete series coverage]

 

Game 6 is at St. Louis on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Sanford fed O'Reilly with a behind-the-back, through-the-legs pass, and the center scored on a backhand 55 seconds into the second period to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. The goal helped to calm the Blues after the Bruins outshot them 17-8 in the first period.

"It started with an awesome play by [David] Perron there to hold the puck and keep that alive while we were finishing a change," Sanford said. "We're always talking on the ice. [O'Reilly's] letting me know where he is, and the same thing with [Perron]. I was able to find him there, and it was a pretty sweet finish by him."

Video: STL@BOS, Gm5: O'Reilly scores off Sanford's nice feed

Sanford has played in three straight games, having entered the lineup for Game 3 with center Oskar Sundqvist suspended one game for boarding Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. He had last played in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round against the Winnipeg Jets.

"The importance of staying ready is huge, and a lot of it, that's on him working hard," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "... He's jumped in there and he's been great. Looks strong, fresh, skating well. It's good on him and good on our staff." 

Sanford said, "It's been fun. It's a fun ride when you're a part of the team and then you get in some games, it's pretty awesome. At the same time, it's been all business and we're looking forward to the next game."

Sanford, O'Reilly and Perron played on a line together 12 times in the regular season, scoring 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists). O'Reilly scored twice and Sanford had an assist in Game 4, and the line combined for three points Thursday with Perron scoring in the third period. That gave them 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 14 games together.

"Early in the year, we had a lot of success together," O'Reilly said. "At times, we showed great chemistry. You can see when we get the puck, forecheck and getting the puck back, these guys are making great plays and possessing it. On that goal, I'm coming in late and these guys are working to protect the puck, and obviously he's got outstanding vision and I was able to find it and put it in. But we work well together. ... We all kind of complement each other well."

Sanford, in his second NHL season, has helped the Blues get within one win of their first Stanley Cup championship. He said his father has been in his thoughts the whole time.

"Every day, every game, every practice," Sanford said. "It's been a little different not having him, but I know he's watching and he's definitely pretty psyched up there. My whole family's been with me for this whole ride too. It's been awesome to have them and my teammates and my friends and everyone along for this ride."

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