Decisive checking, physical play and the ability to convert rebounds into goals allowed the St. Louis Blues to bounce back from a brutal defeat in Game 3 and tie the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins Monday.
The Blues and Bruins return to action Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston for the pivotal fifth game of the series. Historically, teams that are up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final have won 56 of the 80 series.
The Blues appear to have the momentum given their victory in Game 4 and the facial injury suffered by Bruins captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara. However, that was the same situation prior to Game 3 when Boston was coming off a home overtime loss and were playing without injured defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. The Bruins won Game 3 by a 7-2 margin in St. Louis.
Stanley Cup Game 5 Info
When: Thursday, June 6, at 8 p.m. ET
Live stream: NBC Sports
Odds: Boston -155; St. Louis +135 per VegasInsider.com.
After the first four games of the series, certain patterns have become evident. The Bruins have powerful special teams, having scored six power-play goals and one while short-handed, while the Blues have just one power-play goal.
However, when the two teams are playing hockey in five-on-five situations, the Blues have a 10-9 edge. The Bruins did not score a power-play goal in Game 4, and that clearly played a key role in the Game 4 loss.
Big Zee injured on blue line
Chara's presence in Game 5 is very much in question after he blocked a shot early in the second period of Game 4 with his stick, and the puck ramped up and hit him in the face. Chara immediately went down on the ice, bleeding heavily from the mouth.
He was in the locker room for the remainder of the second period, and while he came out for the start of the third period wearing a full face shield, the captain did not return.
The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford reported Tuesday that Chara suffered a broken jaw. His status for Game 5 has not been determined, and if he can't play, the Bruins may have to play Steven Kampfer or rookie Urho Vaakanainen.
Kampfer has seen action during the postseason, but the 20-year-old Vaakanainen has not. He is a talented skater with excellent potential, but he played just two games for the Bruins early in the season and spent the majority of the season with the American Hockey League Providence Bruins and Finland under-20 national team.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy is taking a wait-and-see perspective with Chara.
"I don't know his status for Game 5. He'll have to be reevaluated at home. I can't say either way whether he'll play," Cassidy said, per Tara Sullivan of the Boston Globe. "The conversation [Monday] was short. He was getting work done, we were going on the ice, the trainers come to me and said, 'Done for the night.' The question was asked that he'd like to sit with his teammates. I'm like, 'If medically he's able to do that, then that's fine.'"
The Blues did an outstanding job of avoiding short-handed situations against the Bruins' razor-sharp power play in Game 4.
However, they did that at home, and now they return to TD Garden. It may be harder to keep their discipline without the roaring support of their home fans.
The Blues are hard hitting and will play that style again, but it may not pay off on the road. If they take three or more penalties, that will favor the Bruins.
Look for Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to lead the way as the Bruins secure the victory and take a 3-2 lead in the series.