Chara the lone spark for B's offense

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Chara the lone spark for B's offense

SAN JOSE, CA Zdeno Chara could have had every excuse in the book not to play well against the Sharks on their first step of a three-game swing through California.

The 35-year-old Chara was on the same late season coast-to-coast flight as the rest of his team and he was asked to play upwards of 27 minutes in Bostons 2-1 loss to the Sharks at a sold out HP Pavilion in San Jose.

But Chara choked down the excuses and alibis and instead played like a warrior ready for the playoff challenge. The Bruins Captain soaked up the large chunks of ice time, finished with a game-high eight registered hits including a big statement hit on Michael Handzus in the opening minutes of the game and he scored the teams only goal in the third period. He also had a team-high three of the Bs pitiful 17 shots on net at the end of 60 minutes of hockey against a desperate San Jose bunch.

It wasnt enough for the Bruins to earn a victory, given that not enough of the Bs forward group came to play, but a reinvigorated Chara and Tim Thomas give the Bruins hope that things are indeed different this time around.

Not everyone was sluggish. Some guys werent. There were different reactions to the West coast travel, said Claude Julien. The Chris Kelly line was our best line tonight. Some of our top lines cant get scored on if theyre not going to produce.

Zee has been pretty good lately every night and leading us very well, and the Kelly line has been good for us lately as well. They had their legs tonight; you could tell.

Charas goal was a thing of marksman beauty when Chris Kelly had battled to get to the puck toward the net before throwing it toward the front while battling defenders. A spinning Benoit Pouliot had managed to graze the puck as it floated by him on the doorstep of the net, and by that time Antti Niemi had dropped onto his backside trying to cover the bottom of the net.

Chara was thinking pass to the front of the net until he saw goaltender overboard, and then he changed up and throw the puck at Niemi while using the goaltenders body as a bumper. It worked to perfection as the puck bounced off Niemis shoulder and into the back of the net to get Boston on the board.

But it wasnt enough.
I followed up the play with a few minutes left to go. The rebound came out after a few missed opportunities to shoot it and Brian Rolston did a good job of letting it get to me for a shot, said Chara. I was looking pass at first, but with so many bodies in front at that angle its almost impossible to make a pass. So I threw it at the goaltender and it worked.

"The first half of the game we werent generating enough in the offensive zone. We were playing way too much on the outside, said Chara. If we want to score then we have to put more shots on net. In the first half of the game we werent playing to our potential.

"It was still a close game when we made it a one-goal game, but to win games you cant rely on 20 or 40 minute efforts.

But the Bruins couldnt even get the puck out of their own end in the final minute to stage an empty net rally, and that was par for the course on a day of struggles.

Monday, Sept. 26: So what happens if Canada loses World Cup final?

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Monday, Sept. 26: So what happens if Canada loses World Cup final?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while finding it hard to believe that it’s game day for the Boston Bruins. Summer is officially O-V-A.
 
-- The Montreal media is starting to get on board with this tougher, grittier version of the Habs, along with a healthy Carey Price.
 
-- Pierre McGuire sits in with Ottawa’s TSN sports radio station and talks Team Europe in the World Cup, as well as a number of other things.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Zeisberger is already openly wondering what would happen in Canada if they lose to Team Europe in the best-of-three final to the World Cup.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski asks Brad Marchand if a part of him has thought about playing with Sidney Crosby on the Penguins if he hits free agency. Bells, alarms and whistles should be going off on Causeway Street to give No. 63 whatever he wants at this point. In case you missed it, I talked about the danger of Crosby trying to woo his Nova Scotian buddy to Pittsburgh last week.
 
-- PHT writer James O’Brien says it sounds like the St. Louis Blues are going to play a more aggressive brand of hockey this season.
 
-- For something completely different: Forbes Magazine says Pete Carroll, not Bill Belichick, should be considered the NFL’s foremost cheater.
 

Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

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Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

ARLINGTON, Texas - Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.