After hitting the post late in regulation in Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Gunnarsson memorably told Blues coach Craig Berube in the bathroom at intermission, “I just need one more.” He scored 3:51 into overtime to tie the series against the Boston Bruins, and the Blues went on to win their first championship.
“Even coming into the locker room and the whole story with Berube, it’s kind of a blur,” Gunnarsson said in a video news conference. “But what you remember, what you’ve seen on video, it’s just a good feeling.”
It was the only goal Gunnarsson scored in 68 career NHL playoff games. Yet he doesn’t have the puck from that goal in his possession.
“I wish I did,” he said. “I couldn’t get a hold of it, so I’m not sure where it is or who’s got it right now. I tried to get a hold of it right away, but someone snagged it and I’m not sure where it is.”
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong called Gunnarsson a “consummate professional” who has played well for St. Louis the past seven seasons.
“From his legendary goal in Game 2 of the finals to his numerous contributions to the St. Louis community, he will continue to be a shining example for current and future Blues [players],” Armstrong said in a statement.
Gunnarsson played 629 regular-season games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Blues after making his NHL debut in 2009. A steady, defense-first presence on the blue line, he recorded 138 points and averaged over 18 minutes per game on the ice.
“One of the best teammates ever,” Blues teammate David Perron tweeted. “You made us believe with that OT goal in Game 2! Will never forget that moment & more together! Our battles in practice like we were 2 young guys trying to make an impression! Loved every minute of it!”
The 34-year-old Swede had his 12th season in North America cut short by a knee injury in February. Gunnarsson said his rehab and recovery are on schedule to the point he could probably play by November but decided to hang up his skates instead.
“My body’s been taking a little beating, and last year was not as we wanted or as I wanted: no fans and kind of a weird season and then the injury happened,” he said. “I felt like this was my time.”