ST LOUIS – It was going to be a long, difficult road through St. Louis without Zdeno Chara and the Bruins found that out first-hand on Thursday night facing a Blues team that meant business.
St. Louis didn’t have a ton of great offensive chances, but they cashed in on a pair of perimeter shots early from Alexander Steen and Jaden Schwartz that bedeviled Tuukka Rask. Still, the Bruins fought back with a two-goal third period comeback to push things into the extra session before a T.J. Oshie goal gave St. Louis the 3-2 victory.
Carl Soderberg coughed up the puck behind the net to Oshie and he seemed to catch Rask by surprise with a stuff attempt that was the game-winner for the Blues at Scottrade Center.
Brad Marchand snapped a four-game stretch without a goal by flipping a bad angle shot past Jaroslav Halak for the tying goal after collecting the carom of a Johnny Boychuk blast from the end boards. Steen’s blast cleanly beat Rask to the stick-side from the top of the right circle, and came moments after the refs missed a Maxim Lapierre high stick that bloodied the mouth of Loui Eriksson.
Claude Julien was steamed at the non-call, and the sequence of events that immediately ensued.
The Blues doubled their lead in the second period on the Schwartz point shot that whistled between Kevan Miller’s legs before beating a stunned Rask high to the glove side. The Bruins had their share of chances early, but both Gregory Campbell and Torey Krug didn’t have enough to finish off quality chances in the second period with open real estate between the pipes.
The Bruins finally did connect in the third period as the KIL Line (Krejci, Iginla, Lucic) transition game turned into a David Krejci wrist shot through a Milan Lucic screen in front of the net. That set things up for Marchand’s score to even things up, and get the Bruins into overtime.
GOLD STAR: T.J. Oshie scored the winner in OT on a hustle play where he intercepted a Carl Soderberg pass as he attempted to rim the puck around the boards, and then chased down the puck in front of the net before stuffing it past Tuukka Rask. He also leveled Torey Krug in the second period on a big hit in front of the St. Louis bench before tussling with both Johnny Boychuk and Krug in the ensuing couple of periods. The Blues had some good performances from their players, but they don’t win this one without Oshie’s hustle in OT. He finished with three shot attempts and a pair of hits in 17:06 of ice time.
BLACK EYE: Tuukka Rask described the second and third goals allowed as “[manure] goals”, and seemed to be using it in the context of crap luck rather than crappy execution. But he seemed to be caught surprise by both of those goals, with a viable excuse on the middle goal after it ricocheted off Kevan Miller’s shin pad. Rask fully admitted he’d want to have the first goal back after getting a clean look at Alex Steen’s release. The Bruins lost the game in OT despite outshooting the Blues by a 38-27 margin, and plenty of that responsibility sits with the goaltender.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins dominated the third period while outshooting the Blues by an 11-7 margin and snapped off a pair of goals to push the game into overtime. Jarome Iginla also had a chance to bury the Blues with an open net, but Alex Pietrangelo managed to get a stick on the wide open shot after David Krejci freed him up for the offensive chance. Once the Blues averted that disaster, they hung on for dear life until T.J. Oshie pounced on the missed connection between Soderberg and David Warsofsky following the game.
HONORABLE MENTION: Boychuk finished with an assist, eight shot attempts, two blocked shots and a plus-1 rating in a busy night leading a new-look defense corps. Boychuk also made sure he had the back of Krug when Oshie lined him up for a hit, and went right after Oshie in the waning moments of the second period. Some might criticize him for taking a double-minor penalty addressing the Oshie hit with an undermanned defenseman group, but those kinds of things are meaningful for hockey teams. Oshie went after a smaller player after the play had already moved on, and should have had to answer the bell for it.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-15 – the B’s record when down by two goals this season, a mark that was nearly improved once Boston stormed back in the third period. Alas, it wasn’t mean to be in overtime.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I’m proud of the way we played. The whole team: from the first line to the fourth line. All of our D were really good tonight. Even though we were down two goals after two periods, I thought we were playing really well and deserved better.” –Claude Julien, who had compliments for his team after battling St. Louis to an OT loss with an undermanned group.