By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Sean Kuraly continues to log big minutes for the Bruins – at the postgame podium.
He’s got to be used to it by now. The 26-year-old has established himself as not only a relentless adrenaline injection as the Bruins’ fourth-line center, but someone capable of elevating as the games get bigger and becoming a playoff hero. Kuraly added yet another magical moment to his resume on Monday night, scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the third period of the Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Blues to take a 1-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
Kuraly hammered home the go-ahead score the same way he plays pretty much all the time, balancing his tenacity with incredible poise when these opportunities arise for him. As linemate Noel Acciari whipped the puck toward him into traffic, Kuraly halted it with his skate and smacked it past Blues goalie Jordan Binnington to put the B’s up 3-2. It was a cold-blooded strike by an unheralded player who’s becoming more and more of an assassin in big moments.
Add it to a goal and assist in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and a goal in a gotta-have-it Game 4 to tie the Columbus series. And that’s just this playoff. Kuraly’s big moments go all the way back to his third career playoff game in 2017, when he scored both the tying and winning goal (in overtime) to keep their series alive against the Ottawa Senators. They just keep happening.
And considering Kuraly’s tireless ferocity, it’s really not that surprising. He works his way into these situations with his skating and forechecking. But Kuraly was quick to credit his veteran teammates for taking the pressure off and letting him play freely. It’s been a fruitful approach.
“We’ve got a group that makes that pretty easy and our leadership and the guys that have been here before kind of take a lot of the burden and kind of just let us just play and that’s kind of, I think, the result tonight,” Kuraly said when asked about the goal.
Kuraly also assisted on Connor Clifton’s goal that put the Bruins on the board and sparked their furious comeback. He practically went end-to-end on a rush before feeding the puck in front, where it found Clifton’s stick and fluttered over the plane of the goal line to make it 2-1 Blues. On a night where the Bruins’ top line led by Patrice Bergeron couldn’t find the score sheet, Kuraly once again provided the secondary scoring boost that’s made the Bruins a much different playoff team from a year ago.
“He was all over the ice,” Clifton said after the game on Kuraly. “He was finishing his checks. He was winning pucks back and getting pucks to the net all night and great for him. He had a great game tonight.”
The game-winner marked Kuraly’s seventh goal in 30 career playoff games. That’s an impressive number for a fourth-line center, especially when the majority have come at critical moments. Kuraly isn’t concerned about labels, though. It doesn’t matter what line you’re on when you consistently reach the biggest heights for a Bruins team that’s three wins away from a Stanley Cup championship.
“Really, I think we’re just trying to play as hard as we can, and the role or whatever it is, is something I think that maybe other people talk about or whatever, and we’re just trying to play good and play as hard as we can,” Kuraly said. “We’ve got a lot of good players on the team, so it’s kind of where we’re put in the lineup, and we just want to do the best that we can for the team. We’ve got a heck of a team in there, and a lot of guys that have been around for a while, so we’re just trying to do the best that we can and wherever they want to put us is all good.”
It’s all good for the Bruins and the city of Boston wherever Kuraly slots in the lineup, if he keeps coming up with moments like these.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.