The way the first period of Game 7 was unfolding, it looked like the Boston Bruins were in control on home ice. But after holding the Blues without a shot for nearly 15 minutes in the opening frame, St. Louis struck twice in a three-minute span. When the first period ended the Blues had just four shots, but held a 2-0 lead in the game.
While the first goal, a Ryan O’Reilly tip in, was an eye-opener, Alex Pietrangelo‘s goal really set the Bruins back.
The focal point of that goal was Brad Marchand. He had already been on the ice for more than a minute and couldn’t get off the ice for a clean change. Instead, he hung on and tried to defend St. Louis’ rush, but when Jaden Schwartz got by him in Boston’s end, Marchand tried to get off for a change. That left Alex Pietrangelo unaccounted for on the rush and the Bruins down a man at a key moment.
Schwartz found the charging defenceman and suddenly it was 2-0 Blues. Everyone was wondering what Marchand was thinking on the play.
“I don’t know, they chipped it in,” a distraught Marchand told NBC’s Joe Haggerty after the game. “I thought that (Schwartz) was by himself, so I went for a change, and a couple more guys jumped up on the play. I didn’t see the replay, but yeah.”
While it was the end of a long shift for the Bruins forward, there were only eight seconds left in the period when Pietrangelo put it in the net. It was an unfortunate miscalculation and turned out to be a key turning point in the game. When Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy talked about the loss afterwards, he pointed to that play as a back-breaker.
“The second (goal) we just didn’t manage the puck. We kind of missed an assignment and they made a play, a nice play by Pietrangelo but you’re probably (talking) a different game if it’s 1-0 coming out of the first, I do believe that,” Cassidy said. “I’m not saying that we would have won or we would have lost. I’m not a mind reader. But I do believe that it gave them a lot of juice for a period that they, you know if they looked at it objectively, probably felt or should have felt that they got outplayed but they’re up 2-0 on the scoreboard. That’s all that matters.”
Marchand and his linemates have been a rock for the Bruins for so long, but when the dust settles and he looks back on this game in the summer, it’ll undoubtedly be a tough play for the 31-year-old to come to terms with. As Cassidy noted, it’s hard to know what would have happened if it was just a one-goal deficit for the Bruins coming out of the first period, but that factor probably would have changed the flow of the game.