ST. LOUIS - The Bruins dropped Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, but it may not be their biggest loss of the evening.
Zdeno Chara left the game early in the second period after taking a puck to the face and did not play another shift. Chara was left bloodied after a Brayden Schenn wrister deflected off of the blue liner's stick and into the right side of his face just over three minutes into the middle frame.
Chara was down on the ice for several seconds as he grabbed his face and was attended to by Bruins trainer Don DelNegro, before retreating to the dressing room holding a towel to his chin.
"Very uncomfortable, was advised not to return to play. Had some stitches, probably some dental work in the near future," coach Bruce Cassidy said following Boston's 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues that evened the series at two games apiece. "I don't know his status for Game 5. Obviously when he gets back home he'll have to be re-evaluated, see how he feels [on Tuesday] for starters. Obviously if we have something we'll give it to you. I can't say whether he'd play in Game 5 or not. No idea."
Video: BOS@STL, Gm4: Chara leaves game after blocked shot
Boston's captain did return to the bench for the third period to support his teammates, while wearing a full shield on his helmet. Chara could be seen encouraging the bench with head pats and stick taps at various points during the third.
"It just shows his great leadership. He's there to support the guys," said fellow blue liner Brandon Carlo. "Obviously his mouth has some blood…I don't know what's going on in there, but he could barely talk and he's out there supporting us.
"Just his leadership is on a whole other level, especially during this final round that I've seen. He's always there for us, he's been great communicating and he just wants to be there as a support valve."
"He's a guy that wants to be out there, he wants to battle with the guys and he wasn't gonna miss that opportunity," added David Backes. "He doesn't get back on the ice, but he's a warrior and if there's any chance for him to be back, he'll be back. If not, it will be next man up again."
Video: BOS@STL, Gm4: Cassidy on Game 4 loss, Chara update
That it will. With the statuses of both Chara and Matt Grzelcyk (day-to-day after taking a hit to the head in Game 2) in question for Game 5, Cassidy will be left to contemplate which defenseman is the best option to be inserted into the lineup.
"We're not sure on Zee or Grizz, for that matter, going forward," said Cassidy. "They may be available for Game 5 or neither. We have to make some adjustments, Johnny Moore came in. We'll talk about the next man up.
"[Steven] Kampfer, or we have [Urho] Vaakanainen, [Jeremy] Lauzon, and [Jakub] Zboril. That would be the route we'd go. We'd have to look at Kampfer, obviously, first. He's the one that's been playing for us in the playoffs. He's another left stick so we may measure that."
Chara's departure marked the second time in the series that the Bruins were required to play a large portion of the game with just five defensemen. Grzelcyk was injured in the first period of Game 2 and did not return.
"I think we were pushing through it pretty well," said Carlo. "They got some good opportunities, they were strong in front of our net, especially during the first period. That kind of wears you down throughout the game, but it's nothing that I don't think we could have handled. Rebounds went the right way and they got the opportunity to bury them and they did."
Video: Backes talks after 4-2 loss
The Bruins knew that St. Louis would be a desperate group entering Game 4 as they aimed to avoid falling into a 3-1 series hole. Nevertheless, Boston was unable to counter the Blues' early push, as the home team struck just 43 seconds into the game on Ryan O'Reilly's first goal of the night.
"It was hard fought," said Tuukka Rask. "I think the start obviously wasn't the kind that we wanted. They were a desperate team and I guess they were a little bit more desperate than we were today. They were that much better."
Boston answered later in the first when Charlie Coyle notched his ninth goal of the postseason at 13:14, before the Blues regained the lead just over two minutes later on Vladimir Tarasenko's tally to send St. Louis into the intermission with a 2-1 lead.
Brandon Carlo picked up his first goal of the playoffs late in the second with a shorthanded marker that tied the game once again, but O'Reilly ended up with the winner when he punched a rebound by Rask with 9:22 remaining.
"They pushed back, they played harder than they did in Game 3," said Backes. "We've had times where we've responded well to that and other times where we were slapping the puck around a little bit more and that plays into their hands. I think it was more of the latter, but we found a way shorthanded, nonetheless, to get it to a 2-2 game heading into the third. You would have loved that to be our best 20 minutes of the series there in the third, but they found a way."
Video: Rask talks following Game 4 loss
Spreading the Wealth
With his second-period shorty, Carlo became the 20th different Bruin to score a goal this postseason, marking a new franchise record. It was his first career playoff goal, making him just the fourth player in Stanley Cup Final history to have their first come shorhanded, according to NHL Public Relations. The goal was also the first shorty by a defenseman since Scott Niedermayer in 2000.
"Ultimately, I would give that goal back if it meant a win," said Carlo. "I don't really care to score as long as we're winning. I'm not gonna say it was nice to score that goal because I would much rather come out with a win."
Patrice Bergeron picked up the primary assist on the play when Blues goalie Jordan Binnington kicked out his shot to Carlo, who was charging in from the point. The helper gave Bergeron 103 career postseason points, breaking a tie with Johnny Bucyk for sole possession of second place on the B's all-time playoff scoring list.
Video: BOS@STL, Gm4: Carlo evens score while shorthanded