The St. Louis Blues eased to a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference final on Tuesday night, sending the Blues to the Stanley Cup Final.
St. Louis beat San Jose 4-2 in the best-of-seven series in order to advance to play the Boston Bruins – the same team they played the last time they made it to the Stanley Cup Final 49 years ago.
From Last Place to Conference Champs
Five different players scored for the Blues, with Ivan Barbashev capping off the scoring with an empty-netter with 2:15 left in the game.
The win caps off an incredible comeback for St. Louis, which sat in last place in early January before making their run to the playoffs.
“We always had the talent,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told reporters after the game. “But we were finding ways to lose games instead of winning them. They turned it around and just haven’t stopped going.”
The Sharks showed some life early in the second period, when Dylan Gambrell scored his first goal of the playoffs to cut the deficit to 2-1. But it was all Blues from that point on.
“I was proud of our group tonight,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer told reporters. “I don’t think the score reflected the work that we put in. I know what the scoreboard said at the end of the night, but I felt like we made them earn it tonight.”
The Sharks had been on their own improbable playoff run, one that had been aided on multiple occasions by questionable calls from officials. But when their luck finally ran out on Tuesday, they had nothing but praise for the Blues.
“You have a great team over there, they play hard,” Sharks defenseman Brent Burns told the Mercury News. “They play tight, they have a great goalie. There was just not a lot out there. We had to work for everything. We were working, it seemed like we couldn’t get that break. I thought we had a lot of really good chances tonight.”
Blues Play Bruins in Game 1 on Monday
The Blues enjoyed another excellent performance out of rookie goalie Jordan Binnington, who stopped 25 out of 26 shots on the night.
“The final minutes, counting down there and how loud the rink was and the atmosphere was awesome,” Binnington said afterwards. “We’re excited and looking forward to the next round.”
The Blues will now have to take on the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final, the same team that swept them in the 1970 Finals.
Game 1 won’t be played until Monday night in Boston, which is an especially long layoff for the Bruins, who swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference final. Boston has said that it will hold a public intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday in an effort to keep the team shark despite the break.
Bookmakers have installed the Bruins as a favorite heading into the series. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Boston as a -152 favorite to lift the Stanley Cup, while the Blues are +130 underdogs to win the first title in franchise history.