LOS ANGLES, CA --
Perhaps more fitting than any offensive play, Zdeno Chara
's personal stamp on his 1000th NHL game came in the waning moments of the contest when the defenseman slid in front of a point blank shot during a scramble to the left of the Boston goal - a "save" that helped ensure an important Boston victory over the surging Western Conference Kings.
"When you get down to the end you get six people in the zone, everybody around the net, crashing the net just doing anything they can to throw the puck at the net, sometimes you need a little help," said Boston goaltender Tim Thomas
of the B's big blueliner's block. "Tonight I got help from a 6-foot-9 giant."
Chara used every inch of the the NHL's tallest frame to put himself between the Kings and a possible game-tying tally, but wouldn't take any credit during his postgame comments.
"Well, obviously they put a lot of pressure on us and with that extra guy, it’s always tough to cover up everybody," said Chara. "They were just throwing pucks at the net and there was a loose puck, and I just thought about preventing it from going in the net.
"So I lay down and made a block and that was it – just try to do whatever you can to prevent them from scoring and eventually we got a break and got the puck out of our zone."
But the defenseman did admit that his block was an appropriate play by which to remember his milestone.
"Well, that’s the one thing that’s my bread and butter," said Chara of the pivotal moment. "I’m more known for defending and shutting guys down then scoring.
"Obvioiusly, if I can help offensively I’d like to do that, but the most important thing for me is to win hockey games and play really good defense."
Given Chara's propencity for putting himself in the way of the opposition's best scoring chances, his Head Coach said he wasn't surprized to see No. 33 in the middle of the fray with the game on the line. Nor was Boston's bench boss surprised to see his club rise to the occasion for their captain.
"Well, I think everybody knows how important it was to this team to win it for him, in his 1,000th game," said Julien. "He’s earned that respect around of his teammates and the respect of the organization as well for everything he’s done.
"The one thing I told the guys before the game is when you go through a milestone like that, the one thing you want is to have a good souvenir of it and a win is what we needed here and we managed to get it."
And Chara admitted that his memory of the night will be sweeter thanks to the "W."
"Yeah, it’s a great feeling," he said. "Anytime you win a hockey game it’s a great feeling, you can see the mood in the room after the game was really good.
"I mean, I can’t ask for anything more than what the guys gave me tonight and I really appreciate it.
"It’s a great group of guys, I’m really proud to be part of this team and this group. you can see they battled really hard for me...but this game had a special meaning for everybody," he said.
Afterward, Thomas said he was very pleased for his long-time teammate.
"The first thing I did when I saw him was told him congratulations on that 1,000th game and that hopefully this is one he remembers," said the goalie, who was then asked if he had critiqued the defenseman's kick save.
The famously unorthodox goaltender just shook his head and laughed as he said, "Am, I really going to critique anybody’s style?"