Hate builds up between Blues, Bruins in Stanley Cup Final

BOSTON (AP) — There was blood in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. And a possible head injury. And plenty of fresh bumps and bruises.

The best-of-seven series between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues has turned decidedly nasty, and it only took two games. If that.

Connor Clifton bloodied the Blues' Tyler Bozak with a high stick, Oskar Sundqvist knocked the Bruins' Matt Grzelcyk out of the game by ramming him into the glass and Robert Bortuzzo slashed Boston's Jake DeBrusk between padding on his left arm before a faceoff, leaving him doubled over in pain. Former Blues captain David Backes crushed Sammy Blais with an open-ice hit just two nights after helmetless Torey Krug skated down the ice and leveled the Blues' Robert Thomas with a body check. Thomas hasn't played since.

The NHL has consistently emphasized skill and speed of late but sometimes you can steamroll your way to a playoff victory, which the Blues did 3-2 in overtime Wednesday night to tie the series at a game apiece. The league still sells hatred, and it didn't take long for that to build up between these heavy-hitting teams.

"They're aggressive, they're big, they hit well and we're a big team and we hit, so there's going to be a lot of chirping, a lot of hitting going, a lot of scrums," St. Louis forward Patrick Maroon said.

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Photos from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs
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Photos from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 12: Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes checks Sean Kuraly #52 of the Boston Bruins during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MAY 13: Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 of the San Jose Sharks hits the glass in front of Jaden Schwartz #17 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 13, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - MAY 17: Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks gives up a goal to the San Jose Sharks during the first period in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center on May 17, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 7: Alexander Radulov #47 of the Dallas Stars crashes into Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues after taking a shot on goal in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Enterprise Center on May 7, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 30: Matt Duchene #95 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after beating Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins for a goal during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 30, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 27: Matt Duchene #95 of the Columbus Blue Jackets loses his helmet as he battles for the puck with Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save against Jason Spezza #90 of the Dallas Stars as Colton Parayko #55 of the St. Louis Blues defends in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Enterprise Center on April 25, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 23: Sean Kuraly #52 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Maple Leafs 5-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand (63) takes a shot on goal while Carolina Hurricanes' Jaccob Slavin (74) defends during the first period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final series in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski (8) celebrates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the first period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, May 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)
Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak, right, is upended after a check by Carolina Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho (20), of Finland, during the third period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference finals Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
St. Louis Blues' Robert Bortuzzo (41) fights for the puck with San Jose Sharks' Kevin Labanc, left, and Marcus Sorensen (20) during the first period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals Monday, May 13, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop (30) watches play as St. Louis Blues left wing Sammy Blais (9) is knocked into the net by defenseman Ben Lovejoy (21) during the first period in Game 7 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (29) and Dallas Stars right wing Brett Ritchie (25) compete for control of a loose puck during the first period in Game 7 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51), of Finland, leaps over Carolina Hurricanes center Clark Bishop, bottom, while competing for the puck during the second period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series, Friday, April 26, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
San Jose Sharks' Brent Burns (88) celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series, Sunday, April 28, 2019, at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)
San Jose Sharks right wing Barclay Goodrow, center, celebrates with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) and center Joe Thornton (19) after scoring the winning goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during overtime of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The Sharks won 5-4 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Eakin, foreground, celebrates after scoring a goal in front of San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, center, during the second period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop (30) is pushed into the net by Ben Lovejoy (21) who helps defend against a pressure from Nashville Predators' Colton Sissons (10) in the second period of Game 6 in an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Dallas, Monday, April 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames with teammates Nathan MacKinnon (29), Tyson Barrie (4) and Cale Makar (8) during the first period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Friday, April 19, 2019, in Calgary, Alberta. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press via AP)
Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault (81) slashes San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) during the second period in Game 6 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, April 21, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Williams (14) collides with Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) during the second period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, April 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
St. Louis Blues' Jaden Schwartz celebrates after scoring during the second period in Game 6 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets, Saturday, April 20, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, celebrates his goal with right wing Devante Smith-Pelly, left, during the second period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, third from left, celebrates his overtime goal with, from left, defensemen Patrik Nemeth, Cale Makar and Tyson Barrie in Game 4 of the team's NHL hockey playoff series against Calgary Flames on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Denver. The Avalanche won 3-2. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, left, embraces goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after the team's win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn (14) and Tyler Seguin (91) celebrate a goal by Seguin as Nashville Predators' Craig Smith (15), Pekka Rinne (35) and Mattias Ekholm (14) stand by the net in the third period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Dallas, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Boston Bruins right wing David Backes (42) hits Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin (8) during third-period NHL playoff hockey action in Toronto, Monday, April 15, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Winnipeg Jets' Brandon Tanev (13) is congratulated by teammate Andrew Copp after scoring during the third period in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, Sunday, April 14, 2019, in St. Louis. The Jets won 6-3. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) is sandwiched between Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71), of Russia, and defenseman Justin Schultz (4) while competing for possession of the puck during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Friday, April 12, 2019, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (3), of Sweden, fights with Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson, of Sweden, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates off as the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate their 4-3 win during Game 1 of an NHL Eastern Conference first-round hockey playoff series Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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At the moment, it is advantage St. Louis. The Blues outhustled the Bruins and delivered more blows in grabbing home-ice advantage with Game 3 coming up Saturday night in St. Louis.

"I think we've been doing that all playoffs, no? It's just our style," Sundqvist said. "That's how we play and when we do it, we're good, we're winning pucks back and we're creating offense. That's part of our game."

Knowing that, Backes said the Bruins want to "match physicality, stare them in the eyes and go right through it when they're trying to amp that up and have an answer at times when we have the opportunity to be physical on their guys."

St. Louis was credited with 49 hits in a game filled with aches and pains. Sundqvist's hit on Grzelcyk drew a boarding penalty and the Boston defenseman needed help to get off the ice. Blais and Jaden Schwartz also each ran into goaltender Tuukka Rask and both were whistled for interference.

"We can't let them push us around," Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said. "We can't retaliate after the whistle. They were right on top of us. We kind of felt like whenever we turned around to move up the ice, they were right there, doing a good job with their sticks and playing a little bit more physical than we were."

The Bruins weren't shrinking violets, though. Featuring a blue line with four players 6 feet tall or shorter, Charlie McAvoy was throwing the body like someone not afraid to hit above his weight class.

The hits continued to take their toll. The Blues were already without Thomas and defenseman Vince Dunn, and top-line winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed a big chunk of the second period. Bozak went down the tunnel to close the stick-induced cut on his face but returned not long after.

Bozak was no worse for the wear. Just part of the cost of doing business.

The same couldn't be said for Grzelcyk, who went to a hospital for tests. Boston, down to five defenseman, appeared to tire late.

"It's a long series," Blues defenseman Colton Paryko said. "Obviously they went down a D-man and when you have five D-men and you continue to press and press and press, it's hard for the D-men. I thought we did a good job of continuing to do that.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks sped their way to the Stanley Cup in recent years. The Blues are looking to follow in the heavy tracks of the champion Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals, who pounded their opponents on the way to the title.

After earning the first playoff victory in franchise history by turning the Bruins black and blue, the Blues found a recipe that could lead to the first championship.

"We've just got to continue hitting," Maroon said. "That's our team."

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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