BOSTON -- One of the best all-round defensemen in the League for the better part of the past decade continues to be a dangerous power-play forward for the Boston Bruins.
Zdeno Chara scored two goals, both from his position up front in a man-advantage alignment the Bruins started using this season, and Tuukka Rask made 21 saves for his third shutout in Boston's 2-0 victory against the Calgary Flames at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
The Bruins (23-9-2) have won five of their past six games overall and are 11-0-2 in their past 13 at home.
Chara has nine goals on the season, six on the power play. The Bruins had struggled on the power play for several seasons, and this year decided to move the 6-foot-9 defenseman to a position down low. The Bruins' power play is clicking at 19.6 percent, a significant improvement.
"I think you saw tonight; he's a huge man but he's also got a huge reach. He finds those pucks," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of his 6-foot-9 captain. "But he's also been pretty good at reading off the guys who have the puck, and sometimes it's not about being the screen. Sometimes it's about being the outlet. So he's reading off guys pretty well. So it's been an adjustment for him going from the back end to the front end, but he seems to be more and more comfortable."
If Chara, the 2009 Norris Trophy winner, was a little reluctant about making such a radical change in his role on the man advantage, he's embracing it now.
"I'm just trying to work hard and be there for loose pucks," he said. "You know, creating traffic and, you know, finding some openings. So really the main thing is just to work extremely hard."
At 4:13 of the second period, Chara was hit with a high stick by Calgary center Matt Stajan in front of Boston's net, but there was no penalty. Chara left the ice but returned soon enough to make sure the Bruins didn't waste a power play when Kevan Miller was hit with Lance Bouma's high stick at 5:23.
Chara scored his eighth goal of the season at 7:38 on a one-timer from just outside the right faceoff dot after a cross-ice slap pass from David Krejci. Jarome Iginla picked up the second assist, but the goal was possible only because Milan Lucic made a nifty play to stall Calgary's attempted breakout at the blue line just before the Bruins moved the puck around the Flames' zone.
The Bruins' penalty kill was also effective in the second period, going 2-for-2. For the period, the Bruins outshot Calgary 15-4.
It was déjà vu in the third period, when the Bruins doubled their lead with Bouma again in the box for high sticking Miller. Chara scored his second power-play goal of the game at 3:19 on a snap shot for a 2-0 lead. Iginla's shot from the left dot deflected off two Flames before it landed on Chara's stick.
"I think offensively he's a threat, because he's a big shot and he can play in front," Flames defenseman Mark Giordano said of Chara. "You saw with that last goal, I was right there, but it's tough to get inside on him once he gets that puck, and he just sort of pushes it into the empty net. I didn't think we had a terrible game; I thought our special teams let us down tonight."
The Bruins outshot the Flames 10-9 in the first period, but neither team could find the back of the net. Flames forward Brian McGrattan had the best scoring opportunity when he was open for a one-timer near the right post with Rask out of position but slapped the puck wide.
Playing the first game at home following a four-game road trip, the Bruins found their groove after the first 20 minutes.
"We were aware of that. And for whatever reason, you wonder why that is," Iginla said about teams typically starting slow in their first home games after road trips. "But it is. And I thought the first period, it wasn't a great first period. It was pretty average as far as legs and energy. But our second, [Rask] played great, and you know it gave us at that point going to the second being 0-0, having that chance to get going, and I thought from the second on we played a lot better."
Reto Berra stopped 29 shots for Calgary (13-16-5), which has not won in Boston since Dec. 18, 2003, a streak of four straight losses. The Flames have been shut out in Boston 189 minutes and 36 seconds dating back to 2006.
"We played pretty good, especially in the first period," Berra said. "We had our chances and everything. Their goalie played really good. Yeah, it's tough. I think they scored both goals on the power play, and so we have to find a way to score some goals."
The Bruins are next in action Thursday on the road against the Buffalo Sabres for the start of a home-and-home set. The Flames continue their four-game trip against the Detroit Red Wings, on Thursday.
|Power Play %||18.8%||17.8%|
|% on Road||19.0%||14.7%|
|% at Home||18.7%||21.2%|
|Jordan Caron Tripping against Blair Jones|
|Lance Bouma Hi stick - double minor against David Krejci|
|Brad Marchand Boarding against Sean Monahan|
|Lance Bouma Hi-sticking against Kevan Miller|
|Patrice Bergeron Tripping against Matt Stajan|