|Zdeno Chara: ‘I felt much better today’||04.19.11 at 1:17 am ET|
MONTREAL — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made his return to the lineup Monday night, playing a team-high 26:20 in Boston’s 4-2 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The defenseman had missed Saturday’s Game 2 due to an illness that had hospitalized him Friday night.
Chara, who said he knew he Monday morning that he would “most likely” play in Game 3, was crossed up with Andrew Ference for a too-many-men penalty 1:08 into the game and was beating by Andrei Kostitsyn for the Habs’ first goal, though he picked up an assist on Nathan Horton’s first-period goal and posted an even rating on the night. The 6-foot-9 defenseman said he “felt pretty good,” but that the team’s performance and getting their first win of the series (Montreal leads, 2-1) was his biggest concern.
“We knew the importance of this game, and we approach it that way,” Chara said. “I was just happy with the result tonight, and we’ve got to get ready for the next one.”
Claude Julien said following the win that the team made the decision to play him following the warmup. Chara had attempted to play Saturday, but was scratched due to his illness.
“Obviously, I wasn’t feeling well,” Chara, who would not elaborate on what plagued him, said. “I tried to play [Saturday], and we decided not to. Obviously I had another 24 hours to recover, and all day today. I felt much better today.
“I wanted to play in the game before that, but obviously I knew it wouldn’t be a smart decision for the team, so I was really anxious to be in the lineup tonight.”
After holding off a surge by the Canadiens in the third period (the Habs held a 16-5 shots on goal advantage in the final 20 minutes), the Bruins will travel to Lake Placid for two days of practice. They will attempt to tie the series Thursday back at the Bell Centre.
“It’s only one win,” Chara said. “The next game is going to be an even bigger game.”