The Bruins captain was playing his 1,000th NHL game, but the milestone wouldn't have been quite as enjoyable if Boston couldn't pull out a victory against the Kings in Los Angeles.
Chara's teammates made sure that didn't happen, and Chara himself more than helped the cause as the Bruins pulled out a 4-2 victory to end a four-game road losing streak.
"We talked about that before the game," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "He's been a real warrior for us since he's been here, for six years now. It's definitely a huge accomplishment. So for all of us, we congratulate him on his achievement and we wanted to win this one for him."
Lucic helped out with a third-period goal to break a 1-1 tie. Chris Kelly added another to push the lead to two, but the Kings answered back with one of their own, then threw everything they had in the closing minutes trying to tie it.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was up to the challenge with 41 saves, and Chara helped make sure the Bruins held the lead with a key block of his own in the closing minutes.
"I saw that happen," Thomas said. "That's what it takes when you get down to the end. You get six people in the zone and everybody crashing the net and just doing everything they can to throw the puck to the net. Sometimes you need a little help, and tonight I got help from a 6-foot-9 giant."
Chara has been a giant in more ways than one since his arrival in Boston in 2006. His signing signaled the start of a new era, with his leadership helping turn the club from a last-place laughingstock to Stanley Cup champions in 2011. Along the way, he's won a Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman, shattered records in the All-Star Skills Competition and helped change the culture of the organization.
With all he's done for the Bruins, it was no surprise to see the rest of the team working so hard to help preserve a key victory on his milestone night.
"It is, when you reach a milestone like that, the one thing you want to do is make sure that there's a good memory behind it," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "The best memory we could give him was to have a nice win here. Our guys really battled hard for him, and it just goes to show the amount of respect Zdeno has in that dressing room. With everything he's done for this team and this organization, I think everybody wanted to win this game for him and it showed."
Chara finished a plus-1 with two shots and three hits in 23:16 in his 1,000th game, 470 of which have come in a Bruins uniform. But as usual with the captain, he made sure this night was not just about him, instead sharing the celebration with the rest of his teammates.
"It's a great feeling," Chara said. "Any time you win a hockey game it's a great feeling. You could see the mood in the room after the game was really good. I can't ask for anything more than what the guys gave me tonight. I really appreciate it. It's a great group of guys. I'm really proud to be part of this team and this group. You could see they battled really hard for me and for everybody. I thought that this game had special meaning for everybody."
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