BOSTON — St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington was waiting patiently, as NHL rookies learn to do, while the Stanley Cup was passed from teammate to teammate at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
Thirteen Blues took their turn with the iconic trophy, raising it above their heads, lowering it for a kiss, posing for a picture.
Finally, backup goalie Jake Allen gave the starter a little shove, and the Game 7 star timidly skated forward to receive the Cup and cap off one of the great rookie runs in NHL history.
Binnington stopped 32 shots, and Ryan O’Reilly scored for the fourth straight game to lead the Blues to a 4-1 victory over Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals for the team’s first NHL championship.
Alex Pietrangelo added a goal and an assist and Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford also scored for St. Louis, which had the worst record in the league on Jan. 3 but won 30 of its final 45 regular-season games, then soared through the playoffs to reach the Finals for the first time since 1970.
“To bring a Cup to a city for a first time is crazy. Tough to put into words,” St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz said. “These fans have been waiting a long time. It’s exciting. We’re going to have a lot of fun with it.”
Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images
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“We were the underdogs the whole series. We knew that,” Pietrangelo added. “We knew people didn’t think we would have a chance but we believed in each other and that’s all that matters.”
Binnington, who was pulled from a 7-2 loss in Game 3, took a shutout into the final minutes, and the Blues were not really in danger after scoring twice in the final 3:13 of the first period.
“He bounced back. We knew he would,” Pietrangelo said. “Unbelievable first period. His confidence, his swagger, his belief in himself — unbelievable.”
Head coach Craig Berube, who took the job after Mike Yeo was fired in November, is the fourth coach in the past 11 years to lead his team to the NHL title after being hired in midseason.
“Once we pulled it together, we were tough to beat,” Berube said.
Matt Grzelcyk scored the Bruins’ goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 16 shots for Boston.
“It’s hard to find words,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. “It’s not easy. I’m sure everyone pictured it differently and we believed that it was there for us. That’s sports. You’ve got to kind of take those and move on.”
Boston outshot St. Louis 33-20, but the Blues scored at the end of the first period on goals from Reilly and Pietrangelo about three minutes apart. The second period was scoreless, then Schenn put it out of reach with 8:35 to play and Sanford made it 4-0 before the Bruins spoiled Binnington’s bid for a shutout.
“It takes one goal to get going to swing that momentum,” Boston’s Brad Marchand said. “We just didn’t get that one early enough.”
Associated Press writer Ken Powtak contributed to this report.
Jay Cohen is an Associated Press writer.
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