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Zdeno Chara, Bruins make statement in 4-0 win over Canadiens

02.12.17 at 10:18 pm ET
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The Bruins improved to 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy with Sunday's win over the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins improved to 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy with Sunday’s win over the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

If you closed your eyes and just listened to the crowd at tonight’s season-series finale between the Bruins and Canadiens, you would have thought you had been transported back to the better days of 2011.

At the 5:08 mark of the second period of the game, which ended as a 4-0 victory for the Black and Gold, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara pulled out a beautiful move and beat Canadiens netminder Carey Price upstairs for a shorthanded goal, and the building began to shake.

In what was (fittingly enough) Chara’s first shorty since 2011, Chara showed the raw emotion seldom seen from the B’s captain of 11 years — at least in recent seasons of the franchise’s fall back to the middle of the NHL pack, anyways. His celebratory scream, a former trademark of No. 33, was echoed by those from the crowd, and backed up with the sing-song ‘Ca-rey’ chant that hasn’t been heard in this building in any sort of meaningful manner in over five years.

It was a statement from Big Z that his club was not going to down without a fight.

Not to this team, and not for the 10th time in as many visits to Boston.

And a statement from a Hub fanbase that’s not yet ready to wave the towel on their season.

Not when the team plays with this passion.

The Bruins opened up the game’s scoring just 8:57 when one of the club’s other defense-first defenders, Adam McQuaid, joined the attack and one-timed his second goal of the season home through Price, and with the assist to Peter Cehlarik and Torey Krug.

It a case of what-else-is-new, too, as the Bruins were tested early and often by the Canadiens, especially in a first period that came with a 3-on-5 penalty kill for 1:37 for the Bruins. With the 6-foot-9 Chara out there for the entire kill, the Bruins limited the Canadiens to absolutely nothing throughout the kill, and the crowd was alive.

But as you waited for the other shoe to drop, as it tends to in Bruins-Canadiens showdowns, Cassidy’s Bruins kept the pressure on the Canadiens, and made them pay when Alex Radulov hooked Chara late in the second period.

It was then that David Krejci finished off a beautiful power-play goal with touches from Cehlarik, and a net-front pass out to an open Krejci for No. 46’s 14th goal of the season, and a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes of action.

That still wasn’t enough for the Bruins, however, as Frank Vatrano extended their lead to four with his eighth goal of the season.

Every time the Canadiens tried to come at the Bruins with something, their defense, and especially their last line of defense, goaltender Tuukka Rask, who stopped every shot thrown his way, were there to shut prime opportunities down.

Under Cassidy, the Bruins have opened things up in the attacking zone — and that showed, with another night of at least four goals, including another two from defensemen that have been urged to join the attack.

But it was on Sunday that Cassidy’s system showed the B’s ability to tighten up when they needed to without sacrificing offensive chances the other way, as the Bruins held the Habs to just 25 shots while they peppered 36 of their own on the Habs’ Price.

The Habs’ top stars — Radulov, Max Pacioretty, and noted Bruins Killer Brendan Gallagher — were held to a whisper in this game. The Canadiens’ desire to cause trouble, too — be it from Andrew Shaw’s early fight with Torey Krug, Nathan Beaulieu’s cheap spear on Chara, or some late-game run-ins on Rask’s crease — were met with the style and physicality that became this team’s signature during the height of their runs towards playoff hockey.

Runs that seem possible with the effort put forth since Cassidy’s promotion.

And an effort that started with their 39-year-old captain tonight, too.

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