BOSTON – For now, it looks like the heartbreaking overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens a couple of weeks ago – one in which the Bruins blew a two-goal lead in the final minutes that ultimately resulted in a overtime loss – has become a distant memory. Since that loss, the Bruins have gone 4-1 and are outscoring their opponents during that span, 26-10.
But one of the players on the Black and Gold who is particularly happy with moving on from that heartbreaking defeat in Montreal is Zdeno Chara.
And who wouldn’t blame him? Ever since his post game antics that night in Montreal, the Bruins captain has been playing his best hockey of the season since and is also playing to the form of his Norris Trophy winning season two years ago. He had a key goal against the Penguins last Monday night in the B’s comeback victory and had a power play goal in the team’s 7-5 victory against the Flyers Thursday night.
“Obviously we came back really strong,” reflected Chara on the team’s recent play. “We had a real strong third period in a crazy game against Pittsburgh [last] Monday with a different result. We’re going to have some crazy games too, just like the Philly game.
“It’s part of hockey. It’s just a long season and anything is possible in a 82-game season. But it’s nice that we’re getting things going especially before the All-Star Break.”
In the Bruins’ 7-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Monday afternoon, Chara notched a hat trick, giving him ten goals on the season, and has now easily surpassed last year’s total of seven.
“It’s a very humble feeling and mostly a happy feeling,” the humbled Chara said about his hat trick in his 893rd career game. “It’s pretty special, but obviously a big thank you goes out to the guys because they put me in good spots and good positions that I could actually take shots and score. Obviously it’s a big game and a big thank you to them.”
In a moment of irony, Milan Lucic, who returned to the lineup after missing the last three games, had a goal taken away from him at 9:15 of the first period due to a slashing penalty by Chara.
But just 13 seconds after the penalty expired, Chara came out of the box and created a 2-on-1 with Mark Recchi. From there, Chara wristed a shot past Canes goalie Cam Ward – who was immediately pulled in favor of Justin Peters after the goal – at 11:28 of the third to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead at the time.
“They didn’t blow the whistle after the goal,” said Lucic about his non-goal. “It was unfortunate that it was called back, but it was good to see Z come out of the box and grab the 2-0 lead.”
After the Bruins went on a power play of their own, Chara scored his first of two goals on the man advantage – the other coming at 14:04 of the third – past Peters just 4:30 after his first goal to put the Bruins ahead 3-0 heading into the first intermission.
“It was great. It’s not too often that you see a defenseman get a hat trick,” said Lucic, who also registered a hat trick earlier in the year against the Florida Panthers. “We all saw how he was excited about it. He has the great shot and he’s able to chip in on a couple of goals. He stepped up and played a great game today.”
“I thought he played well and not just because of the goals he scored, but also he made some good simple plays coming out of his own zone,” head coach Claude Julien added about Chara, who was matched up against the likes of Eric Staal. “I thought he kept his game simple, but looked really good. When you can shut down a guy like Staal and his line you’re doing a pretty good job.
“I thought overall he was a really solid player for us tonight.”
Lately the Bruins have been pinching defenseman like Chara and are encouraging them to jump in on the rush. And as a result, the Bruins offense has really gotten a big lift.
“We try to be involved and help the offense, but you know, our first priority is to play well defensively and take care of our own zone,” Chara said. “But if there’s a change in opportunity and we can help create something offensively then we have to do that. It’s a big part of the game and everything is trying to do that obviously for the same as us.”
The Bruins can take a lot out of this victory; but the two teams meet again tomorrow night in Raleigh on the back end of a home and home.
However, Chara joins elite company as he is the fourth Bruins defenseman in franchise history to record a hat trick alongside Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Glen Wesley.