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Undermanned in overtime

Thornton off for first four minutes

ST. LOUIS -- Overtime is difficult enough, but the Bruins faced an extra handicap last night during the extra session against the St. Louis Blues.

They were without their captain and best offensive player -- Joe Thornton -- who was whistled off for the first four minutes because of a stick-swinging scrap he and Blues forward Dallas Drake had at the end of regulation. Each was assessed two minutes for roughing and two for slashing, a tradeoff the Blues gladly took.

When asked what happened, Thornton shook his head.

"I have no idea, to be honest with you," said Thornton. "Bodies were flying everywhere and I didn't really see what was going on. It's tough because that's where a lot of fun happens, four on four, and you want to be a part of that. But we have a lot of guys who can score some big goals. It just didn't happen tonight."

Coach Mike Sullivan regretted that Thornton wasn't available but said there were others who could've done the job.

"It certainly hurts when that caliber of player, you lose him for the overtime, because he's a difference-maker in the game, especially when there are less bodies on the ice because it gives him that much more room to work," said Sullivan. "That was unfortunate but that's the way the game goes."

Toothless Joe

Thornton lost a cap off his right front tooth when he was clipped by a stick during a center-ice faceoff in the second period. "I'll get it fixed again," he said. "Easy come, easy go." . . . With P.J. Axelsson back in Boston recovering from a shoulder injury, Sullivan had center Sergei Zinovjev back in the lineup, hoping he had learned a little something from being a spectator. Zinovjev played his second straight game after sitting out six as a healthy scratch. "He's obviously a talented kid," said Sullivan. "We want to provide the time for the adjustment process. It's a big adjustment for a kid to come over from Europe, his first time away from home in a strange environment with smaller rinks and a different style of play. We'd like to do our best to allow that process to take place. I hope he benefited some because you get a different perspective on the team when you get to see it from up top. He sat for a few games with [assistant coach] Wayne Cashman, who tried to point things out, areas where we think he can make the adjustment better." As unfortunate as Axelsson's injury was -- although he could be back Friday against Nashville -- Sullivan said it was good to get Zinovjev some game action. "We obviously don't want to sit a kid too long," he said. "Part of it was that he was a victim of circumstances [because] our team was winning and playing pretty well."

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