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Chara will not face charges

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 18, 2011

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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will not face criminal charges for his March 8 hit on the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty at Montreal’s Bell Centre, according to the Canadian Press.

“After carefully examining all the information provided in this affair, the [office] is not reasonably convinced it could establish evidence of guilt,’’ the provincial prosecutors’ office said in a statement yesterday.

Chara was interviewed by Montreal police in Boston July 9. The Bruins were not concerned that Chara would face charges. Pacioretty suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck and did not play again last season after the hit.

In response to the hit, the Bell Centre now has padded stanchions. Rinks around the league also installed curved glass around the space between the benches.

“It was somewhere in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t like I was thinking about it every day,’’ Chara said. “It was just something I was waiting on to hear from. Finally that day came, so it’s good news.’’

Tough climb

With their 2-1 shootout win last night, the Bruins have rolled off seven straight victories. The Bruins and the Rangers, also riding a seven-game winning streak, are the hottest teams in the NHL.

For all that, the Bruins are still fighting for a top-eight spot in the Eastern Conference.

They started last night in 11th place, and climbed into eighth following the win. Ottawa, however, leapfrogged over the Bruins with a win late last night over Edmonton.

On Oct. 29, following a 4-2 loss to Montreal, the Bruins were the worst team in the East. Since that loss, the Bruins have piled up 14 points in seven games, but are still fighting daily for a regular spot among the conference’s top eight teams, an indication of how challenging it is for teams to climb out of ditches.

“We’ve kind of turned our game around and realized what kind of hole we were in - still are in, as a matter of fact,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “It’ll be good to go on the road. It will be a good test for us.’’

McQuaid was a steal

Last night marked the second time Adam McQuaid played against his former franchise. In 2005, Columbus selected McQuaid with the 55th overall pick, ahead of high-end defensemen such as Kris Letang (No. 62) and Keith Yandle (105).

After Columbus failed to sign McQuaid, the Blue Jackets traded the defenseman to the Bruins May 16, 2007, for a 2007 fifth-round pick. In turn, Columbus packaged that pick (No. 129), along with two others, to Dallas June 23, 2007, for the 94th selection that year. Columbus drafted Maksim Mayorov. Dallas used the Columbus-via-Boston pick to select Jamie Benn, currently the Stars’ leading scorer.

So on both ends, Columbus got ripped off. Last night, McQuaid scored the Bruins’ only regulation goal and helped to shut down Columbus’s top line.

“A lot’s happened since then,’’ McQuaid said of being Columbus property. “It might be a little different had I actually played in their system a little bit. At the same time, the first step is getting drafted and getting to training camps. I was very happy they gave me that opportunity. I’m pretty happy with the way things worked out.’’

Homestand concludes

The Bruins wrapped up their five-game homestand last night. It also marked the end of a 17-game stretch that included 13 home dates.

The home-heavy schedule didn’t look promising in October, when the Bruins dropped five of seven games at TD Garden.

“I like the fact that we were 2-5 for a while, and we’ve managed to get ourselves back to being a better team at home,’’ said Julien. “We wanted a better record. We wanted to make our place not such a comfortable place to play in for opposing teams.’’

Paille back

Daniel Paille returned to the lineup after missing three games because of a broken nose and had 11:53 of ice time. He had the splints and packing removed from his nose on Wednesday, which should help his breathing. Paille was back on the fourth line, skating 13 shifts for 11:53 of ice time, including 1:13 on the penalty kill.

Jordan Caron was the healthy scratch. Benoit Pouliot remained on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.

Boychuk sick

Johnny Boychuk missed last night’s game because of flu-like symptoms. Boychuk hadn’t missed any games this season, and had most recently been skating with Chara on the No. 1 defense pairing. Andrew Ference, who missed the last two games because of a lower-body injury, replaced Boychuk and played 19:24 while skating on the third pairing with Steven Kampfer. “A little of a sloppy game, but I felt good personally,’’ Ference said . . . Shawn Thornton challenged Jared Boll at 8:35 of the second. Boll had slammed Kampfer into the boards, which had Thornton calling when he rolled over the boards. The two heavyweights exchanged big blows. They continued their discussion in the penalty box.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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