ST. LOUIS — They played Gloria.
The Bruins came back twice in Game 4, but not three times, and the Stanley Cup Final is tied.
A rare gem of goal from Brandon Carlo — a defenseman with eight goals in his three-year career, all in the regular season — tied the score at 2 in the second period, but the latter of Ryan O’Reilly’s two goals brought the Blues a 4-2 win in Game 4, evening the series. Game 5 is Thursday at TD Garden.
Carlo’s shorthanded putback of a Patrice Bergeron shot gave the Bruins a fresh outlook entering the final frame, but that was the end of Boston’s good times. After the first-ever Stanley Cup Final win in this town, they spilled out of Enterprise Center and were set to party all night.
The Bruins — now 3-1 in Game 4s this postseason — went home wondering about captain Zdeno Chara, who missed the final 36:53 of the game after taking a puck off the jaw. He returned for the start of the third period, but sat on the bench in silence. Coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t sure if he, or ailing fellow backliner Matt Grzelcyk, would be available for Game 5.
It forced the Bruins to play with five defenseman for the second time in this Final.
“I think we were pushing through it pretty well. It’s nothing I don’t think we could have handled. I think that game could have gone either way, honestly,” said Carlo, who added he would have traded the goal for a win.
The Blues, fearful of going back to Boston down, 3-1, were riled up. They finished ahead in shots (38-23) and hits (44-41). Just like in Game 3, they had the better of the opening minutes. Unlike Saturday, they scored.
O’Reilly beat Tuukka Rask with a wraparound 43 seconds in, and they made it 2-1 later in the first on a Vladimir Tarasenko goal. Both times — as well as on O’Reilly’s second goal, at 10:38 of the third — Rask allowed a rebound and the Bruins couldn’t handle the follow.
“I’m not going to put it on Tuukka,” Cassidy said, reasoning that he was “fighting to stop the puck,” and his teammates didn’t always help him.
“We’ve talked a lot about the defense here,” Cassidy said. “Personally I think our forwards have to do a way better job with our D out. The onus has to go on them. They’ve got to pull their weight in terms of puck support, helping out the D, finishing some plays. We had some lines tonight that had very few shot attempts.”
Jake DeBrusk put four of the second line’s five pucks toward Jordan Binnington (21 saves), landing two. The third and fourth lines combined for seven attempts. David Pastrnak (four shots, 12 of Boston’s 41 attempts) was the only forward firing.
On the first goal, Rask stopped a tip off the stick of Boston College product Zach Sanford, but the Bruins couldn’t stop O’Reilly. When Sanford tipped Vince Dunn’s shot, both defensemen were stacked to Rask’s right: Carlo tied up in the circle, and Torey Krug marking O’Reilly down low. When O’Reilly collected the rebound, spun off Krug and wrapped around the net, he beat Noel Acciari to the empty space. O’Reilly used his unique blade — its tip has an L-shaped hook — for extra leverage on the wrap.
Boston survived that, pulling even at 13:14 when Chara pinched and Charlie Coyle cashed in. It was a familiar sight to see Coyle, who has nine goals in 21 playoff games, pot a rebound. For Chara, on the other hand, it was a rare, but well-timed activation.
The Blues had one of their own to go up, 2-1. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s drag-and-shoot accomplished two things: it opened a lane around Marcus Johansson’s block attempt, and changed the angle on Rask, who kicked away the on-edge, blocker-side wrister. No one tied up up Tarasenko, who cruised through the slot and scored at 15:30.
The swing leading up to Carlo’s goal began at 3:07 of the second, when Chara took a deflected shot off the jaw. Bloodied and stone-faced, he left for repairs. Boston went nearly 17 minutes without him. He returned for the third, wearing a bubble face shield, but didn’t kill any of an early penalty, indicating he was hardly OK. He never got back on the ice.
With the Bruins down to five defensemen, the Blues poured it on. They killed the Bruins’ first power play of the evening, at 8:31, but then went to work at the other end. Rask stopped point-blank attempts from Dunn and David Perron during a stunning 5-on-5 stretch that looked like a St. Louis power play.
When the Blues did get the man-advantage, after Connor Clifton was called for checking Tarasenko in the head, the most improbable of goal-scorers made them pay.
The Bruins bench was elated after Carlo tied the game at 14:19 of the second, getting enough of a Bergeron rebound to tuck it past Binnington’s glove.
New game. New life for the Bruins.
But O’Reilly, resurrected in St. Louis after a miserable end to his tenure in Buffalo, cleaned up a big bounce of a heavy Pietrangelo shot from outside the dots. Charlie McAvoy couldn’t muscle him away.
“Ladies’ tees, slap shot, couldn’t control it, rebound goal,” was Rask’s assessment of the shot, which hit him in the chest. “Try to control them all, but sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. If I don’t put it in the corner, sometimes our D is there, sometimes our forwards are there.
“It’s always a goalie’s fault when it’s a bad rebound, right?”
Rask, who saved 34 of 37 shots, headed to the bench with 1:44 left. Fifteen seconds later, Brayden Schenn stole a puck at center ice from Clifton and hit the empty-netter.
“You’d better get on your feet,” PA announcer Tom Calhoun implored fans after he announced there was one minute remaining. They were already there — and they stayed for the full-throated singalong at the end.
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports