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 across the recently conquered ice of the new Boston Garden.
Thirteen Blues took their turn with the iconic trophy, raising it above their heads, lowering it for a kiss, posing for a picture.
Finally, understudy 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 Wednesday night to lead the Blues to a 4-1 victory over Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and their 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 in early January but won 30 of their final 49 regular-season games, then soared through the playoffs to reach the final for the first time since 1970.
Binnington, who was pulled from a 7-2 loss in Game 3, took a shutout into the final minutes, and the Blues were never really in danger after scoring twice in the final few minutes 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."
Coach Craig Berube, who took over when Mike Yeo was fired in November, is the fourth coach in the past 11 years hired in midseason to lead his team to the NHL title.
"Once we pulled it together, we were tough to beat," Berube said.
Matt Grzelcyk scored the Bruins' only goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 16 shots for Boston.
Boston outshot St. Louis 33-20, but the Blues went ahead at the end of the first period on goals from O'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.
St. Louis can stop singing the blues.
It's time to play Gloria.
Returning to the site of their last appearance in the final, which ended when Bobby Orr sailed through the air after scoring the Cup winner, the Blues won for the third time in Boston this series and an NHL record-tying 10th time in the postseason.
O'Reilly won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the postseason. He is the first player since Wayne Gretzky to score in four consecutive Stanley Cup Final games.
Not so surprising with Gretzky, who is the NHL's leading regular-season and playoff scorer, but O'Reilly had just three goals in his first 22 postseason games.
Boston will have to console itself with the two major sports championships it has already won in the past year, or the dozen trophies that have been chauffeured through Boston in a parade of the city's iconic, amphibious Duck Boats. Three of them have come at St. Louis' expense.
"We were the underdogs the whole series. We knew that," Pietrangelo said. "We knew people didn't think we would have a chance but we believed in each other and that's all that matters."
The Bruins tried to harness all the local karma they could.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and Julian Edelman waved a banner before the game while wearing David Ortiz jerseys; the Red Sox slugger is recuperating just a mile or so away from an assassination attempt in his native Dominican Republic.
Retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling also was in the crowd, wearing his World Series ring and a Bruins jersey. Portable party Rob Gronkowski also made an appearance on the video board.
And the Bruins responded, dominating for long stretches of time except in the way that mattered most.
The Blues had just one shot on goal heading into the final minutes of the first period, but they scored first when O'Reilly deflected a shot from Jay Bouwmeester into the net. Then with just 8 seconds left in the period and Bruins forward Brad Marchand tentative on a line change, Pietrangelo beat Rask to make it 2-0.
Bouwmeester played in 1,184 regular-season games — the third most among active players who had not gotten their names etched on the Stanley Cup.
BOSTON — The 2018-19 Blues, a team once given up for dead, on Wednesday achieved hockey immortality.
The Blues completed the longest road back in hockey history with a 4-1 win over the Bruins at TD Garden, giving the franchise its first Stanley Cup in its 52-year existence. And they did it an unprecedented way, coming back from having the fewest points in the league on Jan. 3 to being a dominant team the final half of the season.
Ryan O'Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo scored in the first period for the Blues and Brayden Schenn added an insurance goal with 8:35 to go in the third. Zach Sanford, who grew up in the area and went to Boston College, scored with 4:38 to play to put it further in the bag.
O'Reilly, acquired in a trade with Buffalo on July 1 and the team's most dependable player over the course of the season, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the postseason.
Jordan Binnington stopped the first 32 shots he faced, including 12 in the first period where Boston came strongly at him and could have scored more than once, before Matt Grzelcyk scored with 2:10 to play. In the third period, with the Blues protecting a 2-0 lead, he extended his right pad to stop a shot by Joakim Nordstrom that seem fated to make it 2-1.
At the final horn, the Blues spilled out on to the ice, heading for Binnington in goal and engulfing him in a sea of blue and white. Gear and equipment littered the ice as the team joyously celebrated. It was Binnington who led the handshake line after the game, starting with an extended talk with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
After failing in their first chance to take the Cup on Sunday at home, the Blues went where they have done best for much of this season, the road. The Blues finished the playoffs with a 10-3 record on the road, tying the NHL record for most postseason wins on the road. In the Final, they won three of four games played at TD Garden.
Never great, usually good, always cursed, the Blues are the first team in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to be last in the standings at any point after the 30th game of the season and win the Stanley Cup.
With a massive crowd watching back in St. Louis, both in Enterprise Center and Busch Stadium, the franchise's years of suffering were finally rewarded. As the final horn sounded, it was rhapsody in blue.
The Blues, who held the distinction of having played the most games in NHL history without winning the Stanley Cup, now can claim the distinction of having the longest wait — 51 seasons — for a team to win its first championship. Previously, the title went to fellow expansion team the Los Angeles Kings, who won in their 44th season, 2011-12 (the mantel for most games without a title now passes to Vancouver and Buffalo.)
O'Reilly got the Blues started and then Pietrangelo added a goal in the closing seconds of the first period as the Blues scored twice on just four shots on goal in the first. In the second period, the Blues were outshot 11-6 but kept the Bruins off the board.
Jay Bouwmeester took a shot from the blueline that O'Reilly tipped in for the first goal with 3:13 to go in the period. That gave O'Reilly a goal in four straight games — and five goals in four games — and a point in six straight. O'Reilly is just the fourth player in NHL history to have the first goal for his team in four straight games.
O'Reilly's 23 points in the postseason are the most for a Blue in one postseason. His eight points in the Final are the most by a Blue in a career in a Stanley Cup Final, passing Frank St. Marseille.
The Blues got stuck in their own end late in the period before Jaden Schwartz finally got the puck out. He took the puck into the Bruins zone, where he passed to Pietrangelo, who skated toward the net, across the slot to get some space, and backhanded it in with 7.9 seconds to go in the first.
Pietrangelo also had an assist on the O'Reilly goal, giving him 19 points in the postseason.
Binnington stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first period, and some of the shots were tough ones by the Bruins. The Bruins had 22 shot attempts to eight for the Blues in the first. After two periods, the shots were 23-10 for the Bruins were 40-22.
But the Blues held strong.