BOSTON Zdeno Chara has been waiting almost three weeks to answer all of the critics, and Montreal persecutors, since he knocked Max Pacioretty into a treacherous Bell Centre stanchion.
That much was pretty evident right out of the chute in the first period as Chara assisted on two of Bostons goals against their bitter rivals and then dumped both Mathieu Darche and Andrei Kostitsyn in one menacing shift before the first 20 minutes were up.
That started a three-assist, plus-3 evening for Chara against Montreal, and allowed the 6-foot-9 defenseman to take No. 1 Star honors when everything was said and done in a 7-0 drubbing of the Canadiens.
There have been times in the past when Chara and some of his Bruins teammates would get so emotionally wound up prior to a big game that it would detract from their performance. But that didnt happen this time around.
Instead Mark Recchi stirred things up on Wednesday to take some of the media fury away from Chara leading up to the Habs game, and the big blueliner responded with one of his best games of the season.
Its always talk, but I was really focusing on the game on the ice. That was my first priority, said Chara. Obviously we all knew that this was a huge game, not just from what happened the past few weeks, but in the standings as well.
So guys played really hard and showed a lot of character in this room. A lot of guys stepped up in their games and played huge. And obviously Timmy Tim Thomas had a shutout. We had big contributions from the third and fourth line, our power play was really solid, moved the puck well. We killed all the penalties. We had everything going what we were tried to looking for in this game.
While Chara has had all manner of Montreal fandom sideshows going on around him, it never affected his game on the ice in any discernible way. Chara has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in his last seven games since Pacioretty-gate and is a plus-8 over that span of time while waiting for a chance to redeem himself and for the rest of his teammates to redeem themselves against a Habs team hanging around in the standings.
Chara made a statement with his game on the ice against Montreal, and his teammates showed just how much support theyre willing to lend their captain when things get a little rocky.
He didnt stray away from his game, said Johnny Boychuk. He just blocked everything out and wanted to play his game, and that is what he did. He has contributed a lot.
Everybody wanted to win it for him, and they wanted to win it for the team.
With the final regular-season game against the Habs over and done after the seven-goal annihilation, Chara and his Bruins can now finally turn the page on Pacioretty and the Bell Centre stanchions for the time being. Who knows what will happen if the two teams meet in the playoffs and the Habs forward is ready to return to the lineup, but for now life goes on for Chara and the Bs after theyve completely circled the wagons just prior to the postseason.
Tim Thomas collected his 25th career shutout and career-best eighth shutout this season against the Canadiens on Thursday night, and amazingly had his first shutout ever against the Canadiens. Thomas stats against the Habs arent even close to his best over the course of his career, but he was close to his best in the second period while turning away legitimate Montreal bids by Travis Moen and Brian Gionta.
I didnt realize it was my first. I didnt know that. Having said that, its the 25th of my career, and its a memorable one, said Thomas. Ive been on the other end of the spectrum over the years, playing against Montreal. Its a nice victory Ill remember forever.
The playoffs are getting close for both Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell after each forward spent multiple seasons without the playoffs to start each of their respective careers with the Florida Panthers. It was fitting that each player scored a pair of goals in Thursday nights 7-0 victory, and that each player is enjoying some of their best results of the season with the much-anticipated playoffs looming.
Unfortunately, I had to watch a lot of playoff games on TV the past seven years, said Campbell. It was excited for me and Nathan to be involved in a game like this. It was the closest we have been to a playoff game.
The Bs fourth-line center also had the rare 3-on-5 short-handed goal in the third period against a Montreal bunch that had already packed it in for the night, his 12th goal of the season for Boston. That means Campbell is only a single goal away from matching his career-high of two years, and can put the rare short-handed score on his penalty-killing resume.
Sure its not easy, its not easy to score five on four. I guess I caught them, those two guys had been out for a little bit, said Campbell. It just worked out for me. I was able to flip it to myself. You dont see those goals very often. It was nice to get that.
The Bruins Thursday signed Boston University junior David Warsofsky. He will report to the Providence Bruins for the rest of the season.
The 20-year-old defenseman appeared in 34 games this season for BU with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) and 46 PIM. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound native of Marshfield was originally selected by the St. Louis Blues in the fourth round (95th overall) of the 2008 draft. He was acquired by the Bruins last June 26 from the St. Louis Blues for Vladimir Sobotka.