By Joe Haggerty
MONTREAL While Zdeno Chara was on the ice for both Montreal goals and looked understandably lethargic while attempting to stop whirling dervish Andrei Kostitsyn in the second period, there was no doubt Chara was a huge difference-maker for the Bruins in their 4-2 victory at the Bell Centre in Game Three.
Charas long shot wide of the net set up Nathan Hortons second goal of the first period, and the 6-foot-9 defenseman soaked 26:20 of ice time against the high-flying Canadiens less than 72 hours after being hospitalized for what the Bruins are calling severe dehydration.
Chara looked fairly hydrated while racking up three hits and three blocked shots along with an assist and a pair of shots on net, and played his usually stalwart role on both the penalty kill and power play.
"We knew the importance of this game, and we approached it that way, said Chara following the game. "I was just happy with the result tonight, and we've got to get ready for the next one.
The big defenseman wouldnt reveal exactly what was bothering him other than to say he wasnt feeling well, and that he felt much better Monday after some rest and proper hydration.
"Obviously, I wasn't feeling well, said Chara. "I tried to play Saturday. We decided not to. Obviously I had another 24 hours to recover, and all day today. I felt much better today.
"I wanted to play in the game before that, but obviously I knew it wouldn't be a smart decision for the team. I was really anxious to be in the lineup tonight.
Perhaps a little bit of the fatigue set in on Chara at points, and that might have played into the difficulty shifting from one leg to the other as Kostitsyn raced around him for Montreals first goal. But that was a brief black mark on a very positive night for Chara returning to the playoffs. Claude Julien paired Chara with Dennis Seidenberg prior to the game, and that seemed to work for both individuals in over 50 minutes of ice time together.
Hes a big part of our hockey club. You can ask anybody and hes not a very fun guy to play against. Hes arguably the strongest guy in the league, and that makes him such a tough matchup said Julien. After the warmup he felt like he could go, so we had him play. We went in deciding we were going to gauge him period by period, and he was really doing well taking in all of the ice time that we were giving him.
We thought it would be a good change for us to pair Chara and Seidenberg. Those are guys that can log a lot of minutes. We thought they could be a really solid pair for us, and they were. Johnny Boychuk played his best game, Andrew Ference was solid and I really thought our D was much better tonight than the first two games.
Bruins hopped on a bus following the game and took the two-hour drive to Lake Placid, New York for practice days on Tuesday and Wednesday. The players seemed to enjoy the idea of getting away from Habs country for a couple of days after a raucous night at the Bell Centre, and Tim Thomas in particular was really excited about checking out the setting for the 1980 US hockey team Miracle on Ice.
I think it's a good idea to just kind of get away, relax, a little bit more quiet environment, and for myself personally I'll be happy to look around and see a lot of the things from the 1980 Olympics," said Thomas, who captured a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with Team USA.
Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy and center Tyler Seguin were the healthy scratches for the Bruins after taking part in the pregame warm-up at the Bell Centre. Hnidy played in Zdeno Charas absence during Game 2 on Saturday night.