"I was just saying: 'Unless they brought the Cup here, I don't think it had anything to do with it,'" Rask said. "Different year, different teams." It was the first meeting between the clubs since St. Louis won its first Cup last season, skating with the trophy around the TD Garden ice in Boston on June 12 after a 4-1 victory in Game 7.
But on Saturday night, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara set the tone on the opening shift. Like last spring's Cup final, the matchup featured plenty of hard hits, beginning when Chara leveled winger Oskar Sundqvist in front of the Blues bench. Linemate Brayden Schenn skated in to defend Sundqvist and was sent to the penalty box — along with Chara — for matching roughing penalties.
"I think it does when it's Z," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked if the play had an impact on the game. "Against a physical opponent, we knew they're going to come out and bang — and they did. I think it's important for us to initiate and not retaliate. I think we did that."
Anders Bjork also scored for Boston (7-1-2). Brandon Carlo added an empty-net goal with 49 seconds left. Rask, who played his 500th game with the Bruins in a win over Toronto on Tuesday, recorded his 47th career shutout. He is 5-0-1 in six starts this season, picking up his solid play that carried Boston to the final.
Jordan Binnington made 21 saves for the Blues (5-3-3), who won their previous two games. In his rookie season, the 6-foot-2 goalie sparked St. Louis to its run from last place in the Western Conference in early January to a title.
"Bad puck play for us tonight," Sundqvist said. "It's just one of those games we have to forget." With David Perron off for holding, Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Torey Krug at the top of the left circle for a power-play goal 14:59 into the opening period. The puck deflected off Binnington and trickled into the net, just as he looked over his shoulder.
Rask's best save came when he made a blocker stop on Sundqvist's clean breakaway with seven minutes left in the first. "We had looks and didn't capitalize on them," St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. "There weren't many looks either way. It was tight hockey all around."
Boston capitalized on a 3-on-2 break when defenseman Matt Grzelcyk sent a pass to Bjork at the right circle, where he one-timed a shot over Binnington's left shoulder to make it 2-0 at 9:31 of the second.
Clinging to the two-goal edge, Rask made a pair of splendid stops when the Blues were on a power play shortly after Bjork's score. The toughest was on Tyler Bozak's wrister from the slot. NOTES: Pastrnak has an eight-game point streak (11 goals, seven assists). ... Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He didn't travel with the club. GM Doug Armstrong said Tarasenko will be sidelined Sunday in Detroit, too, and re-evaluated when the team returns home after that. ... Boston forward David Krejci missed his fourth straight with an undisclosed injury. . Blues D Carl Gunnarsson didn't dress for the fourth consecutive game, but forward Sammy Blais returned to the lineup.
UP NEXT Blues: At the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon. Bruins: At the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports