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Bruins 5, Blue Jackets 3

Chara hurt in win

Captain absent for third period

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 11, 2011
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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Zdeno Chara departed because of a leg injury with approximately five minutes remaining in the second period, and didn’t return. Tim Thomas, springing leaks through 40 minutes, was replaced by Tuukka Rask to start the third period.

Yet without their two most important players, the Bruins busted a 3-3 tie to score a 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets last night at Nationwide Arena, halting a two-game slide.

“Throughout the season you’re going to have some injuries, and you’re going to have to live with them,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who indicated he didn’t know the severity of Chara’s injury. “No matter what happens, we came out in the third period tied, 3-3. Without him, we won it. You’ve got to credit the team for that effort. It was five games in eight nights. Our group was a little tired. We just had to battle through it. I thought our guys did a great job of that.’’

Chara played only 13:27. After the game, he was walking without noticeable discomfort. Chara, who was not available for comment, traveled to Boston with the team last night and was scheduled to be reevaluated upon his return.

The Bruins’ next game is Tuesday at TD Garden against the Los Angeles Kings. It’s unclear whether Chara will be available. Chara, who has not missed a game this season, scored a power-play goal in the second period last night. He has six goals and 13 assists while averaging 24:48 of ice time. Before his injury, Chara was matched against top-line right wing Rick Nash for most of the Columbus captain’s shifts.

“We don’t know what it is or how severe it is,’’ Milan Lucic said. “We have a great physical staff here. They’ll be making sure he gets taken care of the right way. He’s Big Z for a reason. He’s been the best shutdown defenseman here in the last couple years. He’s our captain. He’s our leader. If he goes down, that’s going to take it upon all the guys to step up and fill in the void.’’

Ironically, the Bruins played their worst last night with Chara and Thomas on the ice. In the first period, Columbus grabbed a two-goal lead. Nash slipped behind Chara and finished his breakaway with a five-hole shot on Thomas at 5:46.

At 11:09, Thomas hit the deck in hopes of knocking the puck away from Derick Brassard. But Thomas couldn’t corral the puck, and with the goalie down on his stomach, Jeff Carter lifted a shot into the net for a power-play goal.

Thomas looked shaky. The Bruins made bad decisions with the puck. But in a 45-second span, they turned a two-goal deficit into a tie game.

At 18:26, as Nathan Horton battled James Wisniewski in front of the net, Joe Corvo took a shot from the right point. The puck deflected off Wisniewski and caromed past Curtis Sanford, giving Corvo his first goal as a Bruin.

On the next shift, Lucic circled around the Columbus net, then found Horton open in the slot. Horton wired a wrister past Sanford to make it 2-2.

“I thought we were going to be in trouble after they scored two goals,’’ Corvo said. “I thought we were going to be in for a long night. It seemed like every rebound was going to them. Timmy was making some pretty good rebound saves. Just to get that one goal and stop their momentum, that was kind of a turning point in that period.’’

In the second, after Chara’s go-ahead goal, RJ Umberger made it 3-3. Umberger fought off a Dennis Seidenberg check, then slipped a slow-moving, bad-angle shot past Thomas at 16:05.

That was enough for Julien, who decided to give Thomas the hook after 40 minutes. It was the first time Thomas had been pulled for Rask this season.

“Timmy didn’t look as comfortable as we’ve seen him,’’ Julien said. “A couple goals went through him. A gut feeling from the coach’s perspective. Timmy’s as consistent as I’ve ever seen a goalie. I’ve been here for five years. I might have pulled him out two or three times at the most. That’s how consistent he is. Everybody’s entitled to those games. I don’t think he was bad. I just didn’t feel he was comfortable in his net.’’

With Rask in goal, the Bruins limited Columbus to 11 shots in the third. Rask stopped them all, with his best save coming on a short-range Carter deflection at 16:32.

By then, the Bruins had gotten their winning goal. For the second time last night, the goal came off the stick of Corvo, who had entered last night without a Black-and-Gold strike to his name.

During a third-period power play with Antoine Vermette off for hooking, Corvo lined up for another slapper from the right point. Benoit Pouliot, who had replaced Brad Marchand on the power play, helped to open up a shooting lane for Corvo. The defenseman took advantage and ripped a slap shot past Sanford (24 saves) at 6:44, giving the Bruins a 4-3 lead. Chris Kelly added an insurance goal at 19:34.

“Long time coming,’’ Corvo said of the goals. “I can’t remember the last time I went 20-something games without scoring. Especially on a new team. It’s nice to get that one, then add another one late.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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