The Blues frickin’ did it. After sloppily face-planting in a Game 6 clinch opportunity at home, the St. Louis Blues bounced back and won Game 7 in enemy territory on Wednesday night by a score of 4-1. In doing so, captain Alex Pietrangelo hoisted his franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup since the Blues were established all the way back in 1967.
The Blues were in survival mode early on, carried only by the freakishly good shot-stopping abilities of Jordan Binnington, who saved 32 to become the only rookie goaltender ever to win all 16 games needed in the postseason. But even though St. Louis only got 20 shots of their own, they actually made those chances count. First, 17 minutes in, Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly was once again in the right place at the right time to deflect a shot from Jay Bouwmeester underneath the goalie’s five-hole.
And just when it looked like the dominated Blues were going to escape to the locker room with a dreamy 1-0 lead, it got even better. Alex Pietrangelo scored a brilliant backhander on a last-second breakout to send the Blues into the first intermission with a second goal they almost didn’t even need.
It was not an easy final 40 minutes for the Blues. In a fast-paced game that continually seemed to go for minutes at a time without stoppages, they couldn’t afford any defensive slip-ups, and Binnington made sure they wouldn’t have to. The kid was fucking Nightcrawler in net, with no save more spectacular than the stretched-out pad stop he got in the third period. He was basically invulnerable.
Just when things were maybe getting a bit too tense, the always-beautiful Vladdy Tarasenko chased down a puck in the opposition’s end and dished it to Brayden Schenn. Schenn placed his shot perfectly off the post for the insurance goal, and in doing so hit the mute button on the arena and turned the last eight minutes into a mere epilogue to the Blues’ heroic journey.
Zach Sanford added one more towards the end for St. Louis, and Binnington did let one in with a couple minutes to play. But by then the party had already started. This is the first Stanley Cup for literally every player on the Blues’ roster, and for them, going from last place in January to champions in June is an unbelievable experience that will be remembered and cherished by everyone who lived through it. Their opponents, whomever they were, will conversely fade to dusty irrelevance while all of St. Louis celebrates.