By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins dominated the Blues in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on the strength of their power play. But they controlled the 5-on-5 game when they needed to, and Tuukka Rask controlled virtually all situations where he needed to make saves.
Rask put on the kind of performance that the guy at the other end could not measure up to on Saturday. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, despite a few highlight-reel saves himself, allowed at least two goals he'd like to have back in an embarrassing defeat for St. Louis. This was not how they expected their first home Stanley Cup Final game in 49 years to go.
But more importantly for the Bruins, Rask reasserted himself as the Conn Smythe favorite with 28 saves on 29 Blues shots on Saturday and passing the eye test in the process. Though the B's got off to a blazing start with a three-goal first period and dominant possession game (18-8 5-on-5 shot attempts), Rask did have to make at least one big stop in the opening frame. Here's his excellent save on sniper Vladimir Tarasenko that helped keep the Bruins in command.
Quite the save by Tuukka Rask on Vladimir Tarasenko pic.twitter.com/7eFBMqk4ij
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) June 2, 2019
Saturday's goaltending battle, however, was really more about Binnington. The Bruins are exploiting his five-hole, where he hasn't been crisp with his pad control throughout the series, and it hurt him big-time in Game 3. The rookie netminder's first big mistake came with just seven seconds left in the first period, when Sean Kuraly simply threw the puck on net to see what happens. Maybe fish for a rebound or keep the forecheck going. Nope, what happened is the puck squeaked through Binnington for an early back-breaker.
Perhaps it's not the most fair to pin Torey Krug's second-period power play goal on Binnington. The Bruins had already built a 4-1 lead, Colton Parayko had committed an unnecessary high-stick against Brad Marchand, and Krug's shot deflected off Jay Bouwmeester on the way to the net. But Binnington caught a piece of it under his arm - a sure sign that he really should have had gotten all of it. This was the goal that chased Binnington from the game for backup Jake Allen.
Not to take away from Rask, though. The Bruins called off the dogs a bit after going back up four and the Blues had firmly entered desperation mode, so possession and shot stats ultimately favored St. Louis in this one. Rask was up to the task.
It took a deflection off Brandon Carlo's pants to get a puck by him on a Blues power play, and a tip off Charlie McAvoy's skate from a behind-the-net feed to a one-timer for the other goal. But Rask also stepped up to make strong saves like this one on Tyler Bozak, the kid of save that Binnington didn't make nearly enough of in key situations.
Rask appeared locked in from start to finish, while Binnington committed too many unforced errors for the Blues to overcome. If the goaltending battle continues to lean this strongly in favor of Rask, it's going to be mighty tough for the Blues to battle back in the Cup Final.
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 protected].