The hole left by Zdeno Chara proved to be too large for the Bruins to fill against the St. Louis Blues Thursday night. The B’s defense failed to protect the blue line while veteran Johnny Boychuk took multiple unnecessary penalties to leave the younger defensemen to fight for themselves.
David Warsofsky, who was recalled from the Providence Bruins at the beginning of the week to replace Chara, was put to the test early on the first power play line when former Boston University teammate Kevin Shattenkirk went to the box just 13 seconds into the game. Both power play lines looked good, but were unable to put one past Jaroslav Halak who was an iron curtain for St. Louis through two periods of play.
However, the Bruins put up a good fight offensively and the Chara-less defense managed to find their stride late in the game, allowing them to pick up a point in the 3-2 overtime loss.
The Blues got on the board late in the first period after an uncalled high stick by Maxim Lapierre that sent Loui Eriksson down the tunnel for some stitches. A couple of minutes later Alexander Steen easily brought the puck through the neutral zone and beat Rask pad side 15:48 into the first.
The Blues scored in transition again early in the second period when Jaden Schwartz wristed the puck through Kevan Miller’s legs and past Rask to put St. Louis up 2-0. Once again the Bruins defense showed their inability to hold the blue line without Chara allowing the Blues to generate quality chances.
The penalty kill stayed strong for the Bruins even with Boychuk in the box for the final two minutes of the second period. Boychuk, who played a majority of the penalty kill minutes through two periods, got called for the double minor for roughing with TJ Oshie after he delivered a solid hit on Torey Krug. The B’s were able to kill the penalty and go into the locker room down only two after two periods.
In the third, Krug took his chance at Oshie himself after another collision between the two, but the size mismatch was evident. The hole left by Chara started to look even bigger.
The Bruins finally got on the board halfway through the third after a slick pass from Jarome Iginla to David Krejci who buried it in the back of the net. Milan Lucic set up the perfect screen as the first line put up important points for their second game in a row after driving the Bruins past the Canucks on Tuesday night.
Two minutes and 28 seconds later Brad Marchand tied it up off a rebound from a Johnny Boychuk rocket. The young Bruins defense was able to hold strong for the remainder of the period while Halak regained his composure long enough to force overtime.
This was the third straight game the Blues gave up a two-point lead in the second half of the game, including a shootout loss to the Senators on Tuesday night after leading 3-1 going into the third period.
It was TJ Oshie, though, who got the last laugh. He forced the puck past Rask three and a half minutes into overtime leaving the Bruins with only one point after a late comeback. The Blues are the only team this season to beat the Bruins in the overtime period.
Rask was coming off a solid performance against the Canucks in his first game back after being pulled in the second period of the Bruins/Canadiens game. However, he looked rusty once again, allowing three goals including the sloppy game-winner that Oshie managed to muscle between him and the pipes.
The Bruins outshot the Blues 32-21 and had several opportunities, but Halak proved to be the dominant goalie despite giving up the early lead.
The Bruins will take on the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. for the final game before the Olympic break.