February 6, 2014

Chara-less Bruins fall in overtime to Blues

By Jesse Connolly

T.J. Oshie celebrates his game-winning goal 3:29 into overtime against Boston. (Getty Images)

Final: St. Louis 3, Boston 2 (OT)

Recap: After a back-and-forth first period in which the B's outshot the host Blues 11-9, Alex Steen got a shot off from the top of the right circle that eluded Tuukka Rask's blocker, staking St. Louis to a 1-0 lead.

At the 3:32 mark of the second, a shot from a similar spot on the left side of the offensive zone via Jaden Schwartz beat Rask top shelf, making it a two-goal game. Boston had a crucial penalty kill late in the second, as Johnny Boychuk got an extra two minutes for an altercation with T.J. Oshie.

After cutting the lead in half on a David Krejci goal, Brad Marchand scored from in close to Jaroslav Halak's right, knotting things up at two apiece. Boston squandered a precious power play with eight minutes to go in regulation.

In the extra session, Boston carried the play but Carl Soderberg turned the puck over behind the net, allowing Oshie to step in at the post to Rask's right and bang the puck home.

Records: St. Louis 38-12-6, 82 points; Boston 36-16-4, 76 points

Key Play of the Game: The Bruins earned a point for the first time in a game in which they trailed by two-or-more goals. Here how it happened: With a little over 11 minutes gone in the third, Reilly Smith came from behind the net and dished from the corner to the point. Torey Krug slid the puck over to Johnny Boychuk, whose bomb rebounded to Marchand near the left post. Alex Pietrangelo couldn't block his bid, and Halak couldn't get over in time to keep the tying tally from finding twine.

Connolly's Commendations: The B's first line kept their hot streak going, with Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla earning assists on Krejci's 13th goal of the season. The three combined for 10 shots on goal, six of which came from Krejci.

After being on fire for about 20 games, Marchand hit a skid in which he went four tilts in a row without a point. He ended that in St. Louis with a big goal and a strong night overall that saw him put five shots on Halak. Marchand also led B's forwards with 2:54 of shorthanded ice time, helping Boston kill off all three of the Blues' man advantages.

Matt Bartkowski may have given Steen a little too much room to operate on the game's opening goal, but it was an extremely solid night for the player that began the year as Boston's seventh D-man. Bartkowski led all B's with 23:20 of ice time and seven hits.

Connolly's Critiques: What started out as a strong game for the third line wound up being an ugly one on the stat sheet. Soderberg and Chris Kelly were each minus-2 and combined to go 5-for-13 on faceoffs. The two -- along with Loui Eriksson -- were on the ice for Oshie's game-winner, with Soderberg's aforementioned turnover leading directly to the goal.

We'll just say Rask would like at least one of the two goals in regulation back.

Notes: The Bruins were Slovakian flag-bearer, Zdeno Chara. Sans No. 33, only one of Boston's blueliners came into the game with over 100 games of NHL experience (Boychuk). ... The Blues improved to 10-0-1 on home ice against Eastern Conference opponents. Rask had allowed three goals in his previous three road starts combined. ... The B's were previously unbeaten (4-0) in games decided during the five-minute overtime session.

Final Thoughts: For a Chara-less Bruins team taking on a Blues squad that's dominated on home ice, rallying back from a two-goal deficit in the third makes this one feel like a win. Full marks to the B's mostly-young D for holding their own against such a formidable foe.

Next: The Bruins will close out their pre-Olympic schedule with a matinee against the Sens Saturday at TD Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com