Blues overcome Chara’s inspirational appearance in Game 5

The St. Louis Blues wanted no part of being on the wrong side of a miraculous Bobby Baun-type tale in Game 5 of the 2018-19 Stanley Cup final.

You remember the Baun storyline from yesteryear, don’t you? The 55th anniversary of his incredible feat came and went on Apr. 23.

It was Game 6 of the 1963-64 Stanley Cup final. Baun suffered a fractured ankle early in the game only to return to score the winner in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Olympia Stadium. His Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 4-0 at home two nights later to take the championship.

Five-and-a-half decades later there was Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, skating out to play the Blues two nights after he broke his jaw getting hit in the face with a puck.

WATCH | Chara takes puck to the face in Game 4:

The Boston Bruins captain returned to the bench in Game 4 after being patched up, but did not play another shift. 1:20

With his jaw wired shut. With his 57-day playoff beard hiding the swelling and stitches, and a guard protecting his jaw, Chara exhibited remarkable guts in suiting up for this game.

His bravery had every talking about him in Boston. Even New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady praised the Bruins captain after a minicamp outing on Thursday. You would expect nothing less from the Slovakian son of an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling legend.

The 42-year-old Chara is the tallest to ever play in the NHL at 6-foot-9, 250 pounds. He has remarkable stamina. But his mettle didn’t help his team’s cause in a 2-1 loss as the Blues now have a 3-2 series lead with a chance to win a championship on home ice on Sunday.

The Blues weathered all the Chara inspiration in the first period. The Bruins outshot their opponents 17-8 in the opening 20 minutes. Then, for the 16th time in their 24-game playoff run, St. Louis scored first early in the second period.

Chara, who played 16 minutes, 42 seconds (well below his 21:56 playoff average) and his defence partner Charlie McAvoy chased Blues forward Zach Sanford behind the net. That left Ryan O’Reilly open in front. Sanford hit his linemate with a pinpoint between the legs pass.

The Bruins had their chances to draw even. But they fell behind 2-0 in the third period when another missed call by the on-ice officiating crew resulted in a 2-0 goal from David Perron.

Moments before, Blues centre Tyler Bozak tripped Boston fourth-liner Noel Acciari right in front of referee Kelly Sutherland. The Bruins stopped playing because they expected a call. The Blues didn’t and scored.

WATCH | Game 5 overshadowed by another missed call: 

The Boston Bruins were shocked after a Tyler Bozak’s trip went uncalled, leading to David Perron’s 2-0 goal. The fans threw garbage on the ice, Cam Neely tossed his water bottle at a wall, and the St. Louis Blues won 2-1 to take a series’ lead. 1:04

Perron’s controversial goal turned out to be the game-winner because Boston fought back to within a goal on a Jake DeBrusk blast two minutes later. The Bruins, however, could not score the equalizer.

Another disputed decision by the referees in this controversial-filled post-season overshadowed another brilliant performance from rookie goalie Jordan Binnington. He made 38 saves.

Blues defenceman Colton Parayko also was massive in a shutdown role. His game matured under the tutelage of Hockey Hall of Famer Larry Robinson and assistant coach Mike Van Ryn this season. Parayko and his partner Jay Bouwmeester led all skaters in ice time in Game 5 at 27:55 and 29:08, respectively.

Now the Bruins face elimination for the first time since Game 6 in Toronto against the Maple Leafs in the first round. They rallied then to advance, but they’ll need a significant effort from their struggling top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

And they’ll need more than just the grits and guts of their captain.

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