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Chara shaken by injury to Danault after slap shot

Bruins defenseman hoping he can speak with Canadiens forward he hit in head

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

MONTREAL -- Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara doesn't hold a hockey stick as much as he wields a cannon, his thunderous slap shot often just a blur to the goaltenders who feel its breeze and hear it hit the mesh behind them without ever having seen it.

In one frightening split second on Saturday, Chara's shot felled an opponent and drained the energy from an arena that had been crackling through nearly 40 minutes of back-and-forth action in one of hockey's great rivalries.

Ninety minutes after Chara hit Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault with a powerful slap shot to the head, the Bruins' 6-foot-9, 250-pound defenseman seemed a little shaken and somewhat relieved that the injury to his opponent appeared to be not as serious as it surely could have been.

"I want to speak to Phillip, but not tonight," Chara said before heading to the shower and his team's flight home. "He's going to be with family and his team at the hospital, but we play them next Wednesday (in Boston) and next Saturday (in Montreal). Hopefully he'll be in the lineup and I can talk to him then.

"I've been hit in the collarbone. Last year I got hit in the head. It just happens. Sometimes the puck jumps or is deflected and goes higher than you want it to. I wanted to stay on the ice to make sure Phillip was responding. We're all humans."

The score was 3-3 between the Bruins and Canadiens with 1:37 remaining in the second period when Chara's one-timer never made it through to goalie Carey Price. Directly in its trajectory was Danault, who crumpled to the ice and was eventually stretchered off.

Awake and alert, Danault was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he would spend the night for observation. He was released early Sunday and is resting at home, according to the Canadiens.

Video: BOS@MTL: Danault leaves game after blocking shot

The final 97 seconds of the period were suspended after Danault left the ice, both teams returning to their dressing rooms with that time tacked on to the start of the third in what would be a 4-3 Bruins shootout victory.

While his teammates returned to their bench, Chara barely moved from his spot inside the Canadiens blue line as Danault was tended to, finally leaning down to say a few words to the latter as the stretcher was wheeled to a waiting ambulance.

So too did Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who trains during the summer with Danault, offer encouragement to his friend.

"I was just hoping that he wasn't hurt," Chara said. "That's obviously the first that goes through my mind. Sometimes we get hit somewhere in the upper body. On that particular play, I was getting a pass off the boards and the puck probably was bouncing a little bit. Very unfortunate. You don't want to ever see anyone getting hit in the head area or neck area and being carried off the ice."

On Feb. 10, 2010, then Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges was struck in the head when he slid to block a one-timer by Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green. Gorges would leave Bell Centre ice on his skates after having been prone for some time, and a team museum would display his helmet where you could see the impression of the puck pressed into the plastic shell.

Chara had once before seen a stretcher on this arena's ice, following his crushing check of Max Pacioretty on March 8, 2011. The impact with a rink-side glass-supporting stanchion sidelined the Canadiens forward for the final 15 games of the regular season and all seven games of the Canadiens' Stanley Cup Playoff First Round series against the Bruins, won by Boston to begin their 2011 championship run.

As Chara blasts go, the one Saturday was a relative wrist shot. "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcaster Jim Hughson said it clocked 76.4 miles per hour, well off Chara's 108.8 mph effort he unleashed in the 2012 NHL All-Star Skills Competition in Ottawa. But the shot Saturday rose so quickly that Danault had no chance to avoid it.

 

[RELATED: Bruins defeat Julien, Canadiens in shootout]

 

Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk was on the ice when Chara took the shot, and the 21-year-old rookie called it "really scary" to see Danault take the full impact of it.

"There's a lot of guys who can shoot it pretty hard but of course (Chara) for sure," said DeBrusk, who scored the Bruins' second goal and in the shootout in his first game at Bell Centre. "I have to get in front of those shots to try to tip them so I see a lot of them. That one, I think the puck was knuckling, it was a freak play.

"For the number of times (Chara) has taken a slap shot while I'm in front of the net, I haven't got one in my head. I know he's feeling pretty bad but things happen out there."

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy expressed surprise incidents like the one Saturday don't happen more often.

"With the ability of guys to shoot one-timers, guys getting in shooting lanes, (pucks) deflecting off sticks..." Cassidy said. "Hopefully, that young fellow is alright. … You could tell the building lost a bit of its juice and the buzz, and rightfully so. You've got to get back to business, but you don't like to see that."

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