Down and nearly out, the Boston Bruins are angry, too.
An emotional return by their injured captain and a frenzied start weren't enough for the Bruins, who lost another bruising game to St. Louis and now trail the Blues 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy was livid following the 2-1 loss in Game 5 on Thursday night, lashing out at the officials for a lack of calls throughout the latest chapter in the physical series.
There were only four penalties called in the game and although three went against the Blues, Cassidy felt St. Louis was the beneficiary of the officiating.
"Clearly, they missed a couple tonight," said Cassidy, who just a few days before was voicing support for the officials as his counterpart, Craig Berube, complained about how the Blues were being treated.
"There's a complaint or whatever put forth by the opposition," Cassidy said. "It just seems to have changed everything."
Cassidy was particularly upset about a no-call after forward Noel Acciari was taken out from behind by Tyler Bozak just before David Perron scored 10:36 into the third period to put the Blues up 2-0. Acciari didn't return, leaving the already short-handed Bruins with another hole to patch.
Fans threw towels onto the ice in disgust and Bruins President Cam Neely threw a water bottle at a wall high up in a suite.
"It's right in front of the official. It's a slew foot. Our guy's gone. The spotter took him out of the game for a possible concussion," Cassidy said. "It's blatant. It had a big effect on the game."
The NHL defended referees Steve Kozari and Kelly Sutherland.
"There are hundreds of judgment calls in every game," director of officiating Stephen Walkom told a pool reporter. "The official on the play, he viewed it and he didn't view it as a penalty at the time."
Acciari's status is uncertain for Sunday's Game 6 in St. Louis, which the Bruins must win to force a Game 7 back in Boston.
"Should have been a penalty for sure," said Boston defenseman Torey Krug, who took a stick to the face in the third that also didn't get called. "Any time it leads to a scoring chance for the opposition, it's got to be called."
Boston will have a little time to ice their wounds and see who's ready to go when the series returns to St. Louis. The Bruins got an emotional lift with the return of captain Zdeno Chara, who was knocked out of Game 4 after taking a deflected puck to the mouth. While Chara was back in the lineup, he logged just 16:42 of ice time Thursday and the Bruins were without fellow defender Matt Grzelcyk for the third straight game after an elbow to the head left him with a concussion.
"It's just another test for this group," Krug said. "We haven't done anything easy all year. We've put ourselves against the wall a lot this season."
Krug actually recovered enough from the high stick he took to set up Jake DeBrusk's goal 13:32 into the third, assisting on Boston's only goal of the night.
DeBrusk said the Bruins are big enough to go toe-to-toe with the hard-hitting Blues, but aren't capitalizing on their own skating ability.
"They're a physical team. That's what they do," DeBrusk said. I think that we can obviously respond. We know their game isn't going to change. When we're playing our best we are physical and we are fast."