Chara’s performance towered above others
The Bruins had a tall order to fill last night: Win the third straight game of their second-round series against the Flyers, and their first at TD Garden.
They badly needed a power-play goal, an increasingly embarrassing void, even as the Bruins were playing their 10th game of the postseason. They needed to show the home crowd they were not going to lose their focus against the Flyers, the team that turned the tables on the Bruins last season, turning Boston’s 3-0 second-round series lead into a 4-3 Philadelphia victory.
And when they called on the captain last night, Zdeno Chara filled the order. He got the first goal of the game and he got the last goal of the game. He broke the team’s 0-for-30 power-play drought with his second goal. He added an assist on Nathan Horton’s second-period score, he was plus-4 in 28 minutes and 12 seconds of ice time (second only to Dennis Seidenberg by four seconds), and he took five shots. Chara was in on everything as the Bruins pounded the Flyers, 5-1, to take a 3-0 lead in the series, but after the game, his focus was still dead-on.
“We are glad that we are in the position that we are,’’ said Chara. “But still there is one more win we have to accomplish to move on and that is where our focus is right now.’’
It was the seventh multiple-point playoff game of Chara’s 13-year career, and a career high for points in a playoff game. Enough? No, not yet. The Bruins scored two goals in the first 63 seconds, with Chara getting the opener when he uncorked a stinger from the top of the left circle. David Krejci scored 33 seconds later.
“You always want to have a good start, especially at home,’’ said Chara. “To score on the first two, three shifts, it’s huge. I thought it got us real good momentum, for the first 20 [minutes] at least. So yeah, it was a good start.’’
Apparently, Chara’s ability for understatement is as long as his reach.
“We all know the most important thing right now is wins,’’ he said. “I’ve said all along, if we can help out offensively, that’s a plus, but for me personally, I really try to focus on my defensive game and play strong throughout the games. I’m not really worried about points.
“It’s nice to score . . . but at the end of the day it’s all about the wins.’’
Chara, at 6 feet 9 inches and 255 pounds, has long had a reputation for packing a powerful shot. He’s clocked the fastest shot in the NHL twice in the All-Star Game skills competition and he sliced in a pair of ferocious shots last night. But sometimes it is just his palpable desire to win that pushes his teammates.
“Z’s our leader and our captain,’’ said Brad Marchand. “And he showed he really wanted to win tonight. Even after the first period, I was thinking, ‘Z is all over the place, taking shots.’ That’s what you need, your leader to step up, and he did that.’’
Chara got his second goal at 18:38 of the third, when the game was in the bag but the Boston power play was still trying to fight its way out of a playoff-long scoring drought. With Flyer Mike Richards sent to the box at 18:06 for hooking, and Braydon Coburn following him at 18:14 for cross-checking, the Bruins got a five-on-three opportunity they simply could not fail. Chara’s slapper, again from the left circle, put an exclamation point on another dominant performance.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s all over now,’’ said Chara of the Bruins’ power-play struggles. “We know that we have things to improve on. But I thought tonight we and even last game before tonight we created some good chances, some really good scoring chances. We just needed that bounce. So, it’s nice to score.’’