Chara let out an ecstatic roar then brought his hand to his head and made a sweeping motion, inviting fans to shower the ice with hats. The sellout Garden crowd did as requested, as the Bruins mobbed Chara amid the rain of caps for putting the finishing touch on a 7-0 rout of Carolina on Monday afternoon.
"I saw Peter Bondra once did it against us when I was with the Islanders, so I remembered that and always thought it would be pretty cool to do it once," Chara said of the gesture after his slap shot from the blue line sailed through traffic in front at 14:04 of the third period.
"It was nice," Chara added. "It's a special feeling. It was a great night and I'm thankful. The fans were great. You recognize that your teammates are pulling for you and want you to have it, so it's nice to score, but you realize that guys are working to make it happen."
Chara's first goal came after his slashing call wiped out a Milan Lucic goal midway through the first period. But right out of the box, Chara broke in on a 2-on-1 with Mark Recchi and fired in a shot from the left circle. He added another with a one-timer from David Krejci on a two-man advantage later in the first, and the quest for his first hat trick was on.
"Everyone talked about it without talking about it too much," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "We didn't want to put too much pressure on him. Any time someone's got two, you really want to see him get the third one. It's a great feeling. It's his first one and he's been in the league 14 years. I've been playing hockey for 30 and I've never had one."
Of course, Thornton is also quick to point out that he also doesn't possess the cannon that Chara does.
"I guess when you can shoot it 109 miles per hour, it probably helps your case a little better back there," Thornton said. "He can shoot the puck. He had his head up and he had some eyes tonight and did a hell of a job finishing."
The rest of the Bruins were certainly pulling for Chara to get that third goal.
"We saw him winding up there and we were all like, 'Shoot! Shoot!' It was nice to see it go in for him," defenseman Adam McQuaid said. "I think he's had quite a few two-goal games, and it's pretty rare for a defenseman to get a hat trick, so we were all excited for him."
Tim Thomas, who made 31 saves for his NHL-best seventh shutout of the season, was also happy for Chara.
"It's well-deserved," Thomas said. "Earlier this year, he struggled scoring, and he's getting it back. Those were three good goals. I'm liking where his shot is at and the positions he's getting himself in to take those shots the past few games, and it's paying off. So I'm very happy for him. He got two early, and I was hoping he'd get that third. Of course, nobody wanted to say anything. It's kind of like a shutout — you don't say it, but I was very happy when he finished that hat trick off."
Chara, however, wasn't too worried about getting the hat trick, and he did his best to keep his teammates from straying from the game plan in their efforts to get him that third goal.
"I wasn't — I was trying to make right plays and I told the guys, 'Don't force it, don't try to always give me the puck just because I have two goals,'" Chara said. "If it's supposed to happen, it will happen. I just kept playing the same way. That's not my style that I'd be thinking about myself."
Chara's primary role is still to prevent goals in his own end, but he's not complaining about his recent offensive surge. After scoring just four goals in his first 36 games this season, he now has six in his last nine games.
"My priority obviously is to win games, shutting down top players and playing well defensively," Chara said. "If I can contribute offensively, I'll take it, but I never expected to score three goals. So when it did happen tonight, I'm very happy and very humble."