On Jan. 7, the St. Louis Blues took the ice in Philadelphia with a rookie goaltender and a team that four days earlier was in the cellar in the NHL standings. On June 12, just over five months later, they were atop the hockey world.
The Blues used two first-period goals to get an edge on the Boston Bruins and never looked back, finishing off an incredible run to a championship with a 4-1 win over Boston in Game 7 to claim the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Bruins heavily controlled the first period with a shot advantage of 12-4. Boston also had what would be the only power play opportunity of the game on a delay of game penalty on Colton Parayko at 7:57. The Blues managed to kill it off and weather the storm from the Bruins with the help of Jordan Binnington, who made numerous great saves in the opening period.
The Blues would also go to the first intermission with the lead thanks to two goals. A point shot by Jay Bouwmeester was deflected in by Ryan O'Reilly for his eighth goal of the playoffs at 16:47, and also his fourth straight game with a goal. With just seven seconds remaining, Alex Pietrangelo finished off a great feed from Jaden Schwartz as the Blues caught the Bruins in a line change.
Despite the heavy shot disadvantage, the Blues had the lead. From there, they played shutdown hockey, limiting quality chances for the Bruins in a scoreless second period.
With under nine minutes to play in the third, the Blues had continued to stifle the Bruins offense. That's when Binnington made his best save of the game, robbing Joakim Nordstrom with the pad. At the other end, Brayden Schenn scored off a great feed from Vladimir Tarasenko and that felt like the dagger.
For good measure, Zach Sanford scored with 4:38 to play to make it 4-0 off a great setup by David Perron.
The Bruins managed to get one goal back with the goalie pulled with 2:10 remaining, ending the shutout bid for Binnington. It was Matt Grzelcyk, back in the lineup for the first time since Game 2, who laced a shot over Binnington's shoulder and in.
It didn't matter at that point, as the Blues were on their way to the victory. Binnington finished with 32 saves on 33 shots. Tuukka Rask made 16 saves on 20 shots in the defeat.
O'Reilly was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, tying for the lead in postseason scoring with 23 points.
Both Schenn and head coach Craig Berube were former Flyers who got to hoist the Cup this season. Berube took over as interim head coach in November -- replacing new Flyers assistant coach Mike Yeo -- and led the Blues to a 38-19-6 record through the remainder of the regular season. The Blues then defeated the Winnipeg Jets in six games, the Dallas Stars in seven games and the San Jose Sharks in six games to reach the Stanley Cup Final against Boston.
So that does it for another season in the NHL, and throughout St. Louis, and somewhere in South Philadelphia, they are playing Gloria tonight for the new Stanley Cup champions.