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Stanley Cup Final

Chara's status uncertain for Bruins in Cup Final

Defenseman left in second period of Game 4 against Blues after taking shot off mouth

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Zdeno Chara's status is uncertain for the Boston Bruins after the defenseman left in the second period of a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Enterprise Center on Monday. 

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy did not have an update on Chara's status Tuesday and said he would have to wait for the team to return home to Boston to find out more. 

The best-of-7 series is tied with Game 5 at TD Garden on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Chara left at 3:07 after Blues forward Brayden Schenn's shot went off Chara's stick and hit him in the mouth, leaving him bloodied. Although he returned to the bench at the start the third period wearing a full, clear face shield, Chara did not take a shift. 

 

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"He was advised not to return to play. (He) had some stitches, probably [will have] some dental work in the near future," Cassidy said postgame. "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 tomorrow for starters. If we have something for you, we'll give it to you. So I can't say whether he'll play in Game 5 or not."

With Chara out, Boston relied on its remaining five defensemen. Charlie McAvoy led the Bruins with 25:51 of ice time and Torey Krug was second at 24:11. 

But with Boston shorthanded, Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly scored his second goal of the game at 10:38 of the third period on a rebound in front to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead.

"I think we are wearing them down when they don't have six [defensemen]," Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist said. "Obviously, you don't want to see a guy take puck in the mouth. It's kind of like when you saw [Blues defenseman Vince Dunn] do it. But, five D against our forecheck, I don't think it's that easy."

Video: BOS@STL, Gm4: Chara leaves game after blocked shot

If Chara can't play in Game 5, he would become the second defenseman the Bruins have lost in the Cup Final. Matt Grzelcyk is in concussion protocol following a boarding penalty by Sundqvist, who received a one-game suspension, in the first period of Game 2 on May 29. 

Among the Bruins' options to replace their captain include Steven Kampfer, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril.  

"We'd look at Kampfer first," Cassidy said. "But it is another left stick, so we may measure that as well."

Even though he was ruled out for the night, the Bruins said they appreciated Chara coming out in the third.

"It just shows his great leadership," Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said. "He's there to support the guys. Obviously, his mouth has some blood and I don't know what's going on in there, but he can 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 just wants to be there as a support valve."

Video: Zdeno Chara's status is currently unknown

It was a situation similar to one that occurred in the 2013 Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Bruins. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took a high hit from Johnny Boychuk late in the second period of Game 5 and was on the bench to start the third period but did not take the ice. Toews returned to play in Game 6, when the Blackhawks defeated the Bruins 3-2 to win the Stanley Cup.

"He's a warrior," Bruins forward David Backes said of Chara. "He doesn't let anything keep him down. Back on the bench, giving us support. If there's any chance he'll be back in, he'll be back in and doing whatever he can to help us win. He's done that his whole career, and I don't expect that to ever change."

Chara was there for the Bruins in the third period of Game 4. It remains to be seen if he'll be on the ice for them in Game 5.

"I've done it. It's hellacious and I don't wish it on anybody," Backes said of taking a puck to the mouth. "Zee's got it, but you know what? It's part of the risk of playing this game. And if there's any chance, a snowball's chance in [heck], he'll be back in the lineup and fighting for us, no question."

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