The defensemen and goaltenders are faced with the daunting task of trying to keep the game in reach, and that’s what Bruins blue-liner Zdeno Chara
was prepared to do.
But even Chara got in the action Sunday, scoring a goal in the third period to give Team Chara a 10-8 lead en route to a 12-9 victory.
With 7:40 left in the game, Chara, who made history with his 108.8 mph slapshot in yesterday’s skill challenged, stunned Brian Elliott with a nifty wrist-shot on a pass from Slovakian countryman Marian Gaborik.
“That was my first shot I think of the game,” Chara said. “It’s nice to score at the All-Stars no doubt. I was surprised – I was hoping to put it in net.
"But again, I was more focused on staying back and not being something that I’m not [and] playing close to my game.”
Gaborik stole the show and earned MVP honors after netting a hat trick and an assist, and two of his goals he scored on teammate Henrik Lundqvist.
With the game tied 6-6 heading into the third period, Team Chara scored six goals to earn the win.
“I thought at least early on, the game was really loose – put up some goals,” Chara said. “But as we were going towards the end, you can see guys wanted to win.
It’s the way it goes sometimes at the All-Star [game], you get the breaks, you score more goals and that’s what happened.”
One of the players Chara thought was most determined to win was former teammate Daniel Alfredsson, who captained the opposing team. Alfredsson scored two goals and an assist in front of the home crowd, and Chara admitted he was pulling for the hat trick.
“I was at the end – he was close,” Chara said. “He hit a post, and then he had a few chances – it was on his hands I guess. Alfie is such a classy guy, obviously a big icon in Ottawa and Sweden as well.
"He’s such a great player to represent this team.”
Team Chara Head Coach Claude Julien was thrilled with getting the win in front of his hometown, but he was also excited for a chance to catch up with the league’s finest players.
“Being in my hometown was pretty special, but I think the one thing people realized in the All-Star game, seeing the players being interviewed and what they did in the community, they’re not only special players on the ice, but they’re special players off the ice," he said. "All quality people.
“Even for [coaches], to put our competitive side away for a weekend and get a chance to talk to these guys individually, they’re great people and it gives you a lot of respect for the individual especially after you get a chance to talk to them.”
Julien was also impressed with the captaincy of Chara and Alfredsson.
“Zee was a great ambassador, just like Alfie was,” he said. “I don’t think they could have made better choices of who could be ambassadors. They took their job seriously and did their homework well.”
The win capped a successful weekend for Chara, who won the hardest shot contest Saturday and set his own record twice in one evening.
Chara said the event was fun for everybody, and he attributed the weekend’s success to Ottawa.
“It was fun, I enjoyed myself. I think the city of Ottawa and the organization did a great job for the All-Star [weekend] – it was a lot to take care of,” Chara said. “We had a great game, we had lots of fun with the draft [and] inside the locker room. You can’t ask for anything better right? It’s a break – we treat it that way.
"We want to enjoy ourselves, have fun, and most of all we want to put [on] a good show.” --- Anthony Gulizia