The Boston Bruins came into TD Garden poised to take a 2-0 series lead over the St. Louis Blues. But they just couldn’t withstand St. Louis’ aggressive attack — despite holding 1-0 and 2-1 leads — as Carl Gunnarsson evened the series with his one-timer just 3:51 into overtime.
The Stanley Cup Final, now even at one game apiece, shifts to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4. The Bruins may be without one of their most valued puck movers when they take the ice at Enterprise Center on Saturday night.
With the game tied 2-2 late in the first period, Oskar Sundqvist delivered a late hit from behind on Matt Grzelcyk. The second-year defenseman needed assistance to the dressing room and later went to the hospital to undergo further tests.
The Bruins had no further update on Grzelcyk’s condition following their 3-2 loss.
“No, well he got hit from behind. That’s what was called. His head got driven into the glass,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “So, he went to the hospital to get some tests. He never returned obviously; so, we’re still waiting for an update.”
“I don’t think that’s a hit we want in our game, I think it’s from behind, elevated in to his head into the glass,” David Backes said. “If that’s a two-minute penalty, there’s going to be a shortage of defensemen in this series by the end of it. That’s in somebody else’s hands, that’s something I think that if I’m making that hit, I’m probably watching from the bleachers for a few but we will see what happens with their player.”
Grzelcyk’s departure proved to be Boston’s downfall on Wednesday night.
The Bruins missed Grzelcyk’s puck-moving prowess as they skated with five defensemen for a good two-thirds of Wednesday’s tilt. The Blues, unlike Game 1, found their skating legs and pushed back against a sloppy Bruins squad.
The Blues used its physicality on the forecheck to grind down the Bruins’ backend. Their extended attacking zone possessions and Boston’s careless decision-making with the puck provided the Bruins with a recipe for failure in Grzelcyk’s absence.
“Guys are used to playing with different guys,” Cassidy said. “But losing the 16 minutes of Grzelcyk’s time, good puck mover, a guy that can break down a forecheck when he’s on, and that was clearly a strength of theirs tonight and a weakness of ours breaking pucks out. So that’s where we missed him the most I felt like.”
It finally caught up in overtime as the team look exhausted and failed at numerous attempts to clear the zone. The Bruins spent 2:47 of the 3:50 in overtime in their own end.
The Bruins could’ve used a talented breakout general like Grzelcyk in Game 2. At the very least, Grzelcyk’s fellow blue-liners would’ve had fresher legs as the game progressed.
But there is nothing they can do about it now.
Cassidy’s squad needs to get back to basics heading into Game 3. The two-day layover could help Grzelcyk in his recovery. And the league will reportedly take a further look at Sundqvist’s hit that only received a two-minute minor for boarding.
Momentum can change quickly in any series, let alone the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins have an opportunity to re-establish that momentum and regain home-ice advantage come Saturday in front of a hostile St. Louis crowd.
“We say we bend, we don’t break,” Charlie Coyle said postgame. “We just need to do the little things. It’s details and details and those things will eventually add up.”
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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