Zdeno Chara returns to lineup to face Sabres Friday night

Chara missed Monday night's game due to jaw surgery.

Zdeno Chara returned after missing only one game because of jaw surgery, but Charlie McAvoy did not play Friday night in Buffalo. –john tlumacki

BUFFALO — Only some 96 hours removed from corrective surgery on his jaw, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was back on duty Friday night, pairing with old partner Brandon Carlo on the No. 1 shutdown unit vs. the Sabres.

Chara, 42, hopes it will be his last visit to the Mass. General Hospital operating room for a while.

“Hopefully not,’’ he said Friday morning when asked if any follow-up surgery would be necessary. “It’s the last thing I’d like to see.’’

The procedure Monday was necessitated by an infection that took root some six months after doctors used plates, screws and wires to repair the fractured jaw he suffered during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.


In recent weeks, the infection caused pain and soreness in the previously repaired area, with Chara noting here that he underwent another medical procedure early this month, prior to the operation.

“I think it’s just one of those things . . . it happens quick and you can’t really control it, for whatever reasons,’’ he said. “So we were at the stage where we tried to settle it first with a small procedure before the Florida trip [for games Dec. 12 and 14] and we scheduled the surgery before the break so I could actually take advantage of a few days of not skating, or pumping blood into that area.’’

Chara, with lingering effects of Monday’s operation still evident as he spoke, chose not to wear extra protective headgear or facial cage for what was his 1,523rd career regular-season game.

Provided he is not forced to exit the lineup in the next 2-3 weeks, Chara will play his 1,000th regular-season game in a Boston uniform Jan. 11 when the Bruins face the Islanders in Brooklyn.

Given his recent career interruption, Chara was not of the mind to talk about the significance of game No. 1,000 in Black and Gold.

“I’ll talk about it when I get there,’’ said Chara. “I just don’t want to jinx it.”