Zdeno Chara leaves early as Bruins lose to Blues
The Bruins lost two leads and eventually the game to the St. Louis Blues, 4-2, at the Garden last night.
But they may have lost a lot more than that.
Zdeno Chara left the game after his first shift in the second period and, after that, the airtight defense the B’s had been playing for the previous seven games took a major hit. There was no immediate word on why Chara left the game and there was no obvious injury that occurred.
The B’s allowed three second-period goals and, though they spent a lot of time in the offensive zone in the third period, they could not overcome the one-goal deficit. Jori Lehtera added the empty netter to finish it off.
Coach Claude Julien did not give an update on Chara after the game, but the captain’s teammates were bracing for at least the possibility he could miss some games.
“He’s going to play with whatever he has going on, but if he’s not on the ice you know he’s in some discomfort. He’s been a warrior for us,” said Torey Krug. “If he does miss some time, hopefully we can pick him up with a couple of wins and we’ll be excited when he comes back.”
While the loss of Chara caused the B’s to run around their own zone too much in the game-deciding second period, it was their ongoing issue at the other end of the ice that sealed their fate. The B’s threw 41 shots on No. 1 star Jake Allen, took a total of 65 shots and a few other glittering chances. Still, they managed just the two goals.
“You wish we had better finish on those opportunities,” said Julien. “We’re not scoring as much as we should be on those quality opportunities we’re getting right now and that’s coming back to hurt us a little bit. I’m not going to criticize the effort. I think overall we competed against a pretty good hockey club, but at the end of the day we needed to find that extra couple of goals.”
David Backes, who scored one, took a game-high six shots while Matt Beleskey and Patrice Bergeron had five apiece.
“Sometimes it’s a matter of circumstances or bounces, but it’s another game where we get over 40 shots against a team that’s really good defensively and good at keeping teams out of their zone and eliminating opponents shots. We need to find a way to get more,” said Backes. “There were a few loose pucks in the slot and few second opportunities . . . we need to bear down and shoot it through the goalie or through the back of the net. Maybe then it’s a 5-3 game or 5-2 game and a different story can be written. That’s not the case and we have to move forward with another tough lesson of 40 shots and two goals. We need to be rewarded for what we’re putting in to some of these games and start reaping what we’re sowing.”
The B’s had a strong first period and Backes scored on a rebound of his own tip on an early power play for a 1-0 lead.
Chara left the game after his first shift in the second period after taking a couple of bumps from Jaden Schwartz that seemed innocuous at the time. He stayed on the bench until the 3:23 mark, which is when the Blues tied the game on a Lehtera tip after an extended stay in the B’s end. Julien challenged the goal for goalie interference — Lehtera grazed Rask’s glove before the shot — but was denied. During the video review, Chara made his way to the room and did not return.
The Blues were taking the fight to the B’s at that point, but Dominic Moore stemmed the tide briefly with some good hustle to score a shorthanded goal at 8:59.
That could have been a backbreaking goal for the Blues, but it wasn’t. As rookie Brandon Carlo (minus-2) learned what life without his towering defense partner will look like, the Blues went ahead on two goals in 2:12 late in the period, both coming off rebounds from Rask. Robert Bortuzzo scored his first of the year and then Paul Stastny added his fifth at 16:11.
The B’s dominated the third, outshooting the Blues 17-7. But in the end, they could only lament what might have been. And what they could be missing in the immediate future.