After watching--and listening--to their captain get pummeled in the court of public opinion in Montreal for his hard and controversial hit on Max Pacioretty, the Bruins and veteran forward Mark Recchi, in particular, rallied around Zdeno Chara by administering an epic beatdown, 7-0, on the Canadiens Thursday night before a TD Garden sellout crowd of 17,565.
While there was so much hype surrounding this playoff-type of matchup between the hated Eastern Conference archrivals, Recchi only seemed to add to it when he said on the radio Wednesday the fractured vertebrae and severe concussion Pacioretty suffered in the previous meeting in Montreal had been embellished in an attempt to get Chara suspended.
"Well, I have to be honest with you guys, I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day,'' Recchi told reporters afterward. "I'm a big boy. And I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization. I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there.
"I had five great years there,'' Recchi said of his time in Montreal. "I took the pressure off Zee. In 22 years, I've respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that. For 22 years. I just took the pressure off Zee for one day, I'm a big boy, I can handle that.''
Pacioretty suffered his injuries when Chara checked him into the boards and caused him to violently collide head-first into an exposed stanchion at the Bell Centre.
"It's still an unfortunate situation it all happened,'' Recchi said of Pacioretty's injury. "We all hope Max gets a full recovery here soon and we know he's well on his way.''
The rest of the Bruins rallied around Chara, who was recognized as the game's No. 1 star after he recorded a career-high three assists, erupting for three first-period goals by Johnny Boychuk (1:01), Gregory Campbell (13:43) and Nathan Horton (17:28) on the power play.
After a scoreless second period, the Bruins put the game out of reach with four goals in the third by Horton (4:03), Adam McQuaid (4:29), which knocked out starting Montreal goaltender Carey Price. Alex Auld, Price's replacement, hardly fared any better allowing goals by Thomas Kaberle (11:27), and Campbell (13:35) on an unassisted shorthanded score on a 3-on-5 situation.
Tim Thomas improved to 31-10-8 after preserving the shutout, his eighth of the season and 25th of his career, by making 23 saves against the Canadiens.
"I obviously don't know exactly all the comments,'' Chara said of the remarks Recchi made on 98.5 The Sports Hub. ``But he's such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It's a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He's obviously the next Hall-of-Famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can't thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.''