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Chara scores twice as Bruins keep edge with 3-1 victory over Montreal @NHLdotcom

BOSTON - Zdeno Chara scored a pair of power-play goals, and Tim Thomas stopped 34 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the surging Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored for Montreal, which had won four straight games, scoring five or more goals in each of them. Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves, but the Canadiens lost in regulation for the second time in 12 games and fell a dozen points behind the rival Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Bruins were without three of their top forwards, losing Phil Kessel to mononucleosis, Marco Sturm to a knee injury and Milan Lucic to an undisclosed injury. Chara picked up the slack, scoring on a rebound to tie it in the second period, then adding a go-ahead goal with 1:36 left in the period when his one-timer deflected off the stick of defenceman Andrei Markov and into the net.

It was Chara's seventh career two-goal game.

Thomas is 9-1 in his past 10 starts. He helped protect a one-goal lead in the third when he stopped Tom Kostopoulos with his right pad with just under five minutes left, then used the full extension of his glove to stop Kostitsyn with 2:16 to play.

Notes: Bruins defenceman Aaron Ward, who was boarded in the second period but left the ice on his own power, did not return to the game. ... Kessel, the team's leading goal-scorer, was diagnosed with mononucleosis and placed on injured reserve. He is expected to miss two to four weeks. His absence snapped a streak of 167 consecutive games played. ... Bruins coach Claude Julien and Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau will share the bench at the Jan. 25 all-star game in Montreal. ... Montreal outshot Boston 17-9 in the scoreless first period.

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