Zdeno Chara Makes an Immediate Impact in Return to Lineup in Montreal

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Zdeno Chara Makes an Immediate Impact in Return to Lineup in Montreal MONTREAL — Despite a bout of dehydration that hospitalized him last Friday, Zdeno Chara didn't want to miss even one game this postseason.

He was given no choice in the matter on Saturday. But on Monday in Montreal with his club staring at a two-game deficit, the Bruins captain certainly wasn't going to miss another. In fact, he wasn't going to miss a single shift.

Chara returned to action in Game 3 and jumped right back into his usual workload, leading all Bruins in ice time with 34 shifts totaling 26:20. He made good use of the time too, collecting an assist, dishing out three hits, blocking three shots and putting a pair on net himself to help the Bruins get back in the series with a 4-2 win in Montreal.

"I felt pretty good," Chara said. "Friday, I wasn't feeling well. I had another 24 hours to recover, and I had all day today. I felt much better today.

"Since [Monday] morning, I knew I would most likely play," Chara added. "I even wanted to play in the game before that [on Saturday]. Obviously, I knew it wouldn't be smart decision for the team. So for sure, I was anxious to be in the lineup [Monday]."   

The Bruins were just as anxious to have him back.

"It was huge," center Patrice Bergeron said. "He's our captain and our leader. It's just nice having him back there and knowing that he's there."

Despite Chara's determination, the Bruins weren't sure of his ability to play until the last minute. Chara had taken warm-ups on Saturday before being ruled out, so the club's medical staff had to see how he fared after testing himself in the pre-game again on Monday.

"He said this morning that he felt pretty good, but we wanted to give it the whole day to see how he felt," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "After the warm-up [it was] the same thing. He felt fine so we made the final decision. We were optimistic he was going to play, but it was hard to confirm it because of the situation he's been through."

Chara then had to go through another trying situation, as his return to the lineup coincided with his first return to Montreal since his devastating hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty back on March 8. Pacioretty remains out of action with injuries suffered when Chara checked him into the stanchion between the benches, and a police investigation into the incident remains open.

Chara has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Montreal, and he was loudly booed every time he touched the puck on Monday.

"He's been in the league for such a long time and he knew what was going to happen tonight," Julien said. "He's been booed in a lot of arenas that he plays in. That to me is a sign of a lot of respect for a great player. He draws that much attention because he's got a certain impact, and he does have a big impact on our hockey club."

It was a positive impact Julien was very happy to have back in his lineup.

"We know he's a big part of our hockey club," Julien said. "You can ask any player that plays against him. He's a tough guy to play against. You've got to be pretty good to get around him. He's got such a long reach and he's arguably the strongest guy in the league. So he's not an easy guy to play against and whenever you take him out of the lineup you're taking a big piece out of there. Tonight we were glad to have him back. We were kind of gauging his game a little bit by how he was feeling period after period and he seemed to feel good  and we kept giving him the ice time he was capable of handling."

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