BOSTON, MA --
After Zdeno Chara
's dominant performance during his Bruins 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Head Coach Claude Julien was asked how he would gameplan against his all-star defenseman.
Julien smiled and rhetorically asked,"You don’t expect me to sit up here and tell you how to beat Chara, do you? It’s not going to happen."
And on his way out of the press conference, the B's bench boss yelled back over his shoulder, "You can't beat him!"
That's exactly how the Lightning must have felt as the Bruins captain capitalized on the emotion he garnered during a pregame ceremony to honor his 1000th game and helped spearhead Boston's attack with three assists in almost 25 minutes of ice time.
"I think that’s the most important thing," said the defenseman of the Bruins third-straight victory. "We just want to play really well going into the playoffs and at least out there you have to get your game established and play the right way and for the most part, I thought we did."
Julien marveled at the big blueliner's game versus the Bolts.
"I mean, you can take away his three assists and still look at his game and say he was solid," said Julien of a stat line that also included six shots and a plus-3. "Everything he did was simple, efficient, and he was rock solid tonight.
"I really liked his game, and to cap it off with a three-point night was nice to see. He made a lot of smart plays -- really, really good.
"Obviously this was a special night for him, and he wanted to make sure that everything he did was good and positive, and [he] was a real solid contributor for us tonight," he said.
Chara's teammates weren't surprised to see their leader step up to the occasion.
"Yeah, it’s really big. We really count on him, he plays 25 or 30 minutes a night and he’s a leader off the ice," said forward Brad Marchand
. "We definitely wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for him last year.
"Having a guy like him on your team makes it a lot easier going into the playoffs, and you know he showed tonight why he’s such a big asset to our team with three assists and getting that first goal going.
"He just plays all areas of the rink."
Chara deflected praise, even for his Bobby Orr-like drive to the net in the first period, which led to Shawn Thornton
's goal at 10:54.
"I’ve been saying that sometimes, things just open up for you," said Chara. "I was looking for a chance to ride the blueline, and all of a sudden I had the chance to cut that seam and I took it.
"And then, I kind of thought, ‘I’m going to have to shoot the puck right away’. And then another thing opened up and I was kind of excited to pass on shooting and I took it to the net and sometimes those things just open up for you and you have to take advantage and take the best out of them."
And the B's captain thinks his team can enjoy the win, but shouldn't be satisfied.
"There’s areas that can be better and we can improve," said Chara of the victory. "It was a tough game to play, they’re always dangerous, they always create good scoring chances and obviously they have some guys that are extremely well at finding the net.
"But the important thing is we won the game."
Spoken like a man who's played 1,002 NHL games, no?