Chara plays to win, even in an All-Star Game


Chara plays to win, even in an All-Star Game

KANATA, Ont. Zdeno Chara said he didnt have to say a thing to anyone on his team in the third period before they turned on the after-burners and scored six goals en route to the 12-9 victory over Team Alfredsson at the NHL All-Star Game Sunday at Scotiabank Place.
Well, maybe the Bs captain was stretching the truth just a little bit.
Just ask Jarome Iginla about Charas intensity when the exhibition game was still in question during the third period. Thats when the 6-foot-9 defenseman turned more winning machine than man, and perhaps thats a little something Iginla hasnt had enough of in Calgary lately.
I gave that one away near the end and Chara asked me if I was playing on their team for that one shift, said Iginla with a smile on his face. Once you get out there, you dont really like to be scored on.
Chara wanted to win. Hes competitive. He thought I gave that pass up on purpose instead of sending our guys 2-on-1 . . . I gave them a 3-on-2 at our blue line. I assured him it wasnt on purpose.
Once Chara had that assurance, the rest was up to him to finish off the perfect All-Star weekend in an NHL setting where he had four wonderful seasons at the beginning of his NHL career. Chara popped the game-winning goal in the third period from the right faceoff circle after stepping into the play, and made it a storybook weekend all-around. Everything on Sunday was supported by Charas 108.8-mph slapshot that electrified the Skills Competition crowd, and left him with a smile on his face knowing an All-Star weekend cant be much better for him.
That was my first shot, I think, of the game, said Chara. Its nice to score in the All-Star game. I was surprised I was open and put it in the net. I was more focused on staying back and not being something Im not. I enjoyed myself. The city of Ottawa and the organization did a really great job.
We had great teams, lots of fun with the draft and with the guys inside the locker room. You cant ask for anything better, right? Its a break so we treated it that way. We wanted to enjoy ourselves and have fun . . . most of all, we wanted to put on a good show. We wanted to play and show the skills when theres a time to show them, and when theres a time to relax and take a break then do that.
Bruins coach Claude Julien watched up close and personal as Chara assisted in directing the entire weekend of All-Star events, and showed the kind of intelligence, strength and surprising charm that everyone in Boston already know the Bs captain possesses. Hes become one of the NHLs most recognizable stars in terms of stature and presence, and All-Star weekend simply helped hammer that point home.
Youre always proud of your guys. Zee was a great ambassador just like the Senators' Daniel Alfredsson was, said Julien. For both teams I dont think you could have picked better individuals for people that could have been ambassadors. They took their jobs seriously and really did their homework well.
Chara and Alfredsson are both modest. They have the kind of athletic ability where they could make more of it, but they always put others in front of them. Even when he was picking other guys for competitions he would always put himself last after the others. Thats what makes Zee pretty special. Hes a great guy team and a guy that really cares. Not just as a person, but even as a player. With a guy thats strong like that and big like that, if he didnt respect the players he played against there would be a lot of injuries. Hes tapered his game to the point where hes still effective, but hes not dangerous.
The All-Star weekend was supposed to all about Alfredsson, and the classy Senators captain got his due. But the once-favored son of Ottawa that eventually defected to Boston certainly made the weekend his as well.

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


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.