Chara scored the winning goal in his first game against his former team, lifting the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Chara, one of the NHL’s top free agents last summer, scored a power-play goal on a blistering slap shot from the right point with 4:25 left to give the struggling Bruins just their second win in six games.
Although he downplayed his matchup against the team where he spent the last four seasons, Chara came out flying and hitting early in the game.
“Yes, I was playing my former team, but my main focus was on those two points,” he said. “It did not matter who we played. We really needed this win and we got it and it’s a nice feeling.”
Chara used his six-foot-nine frame often against his former team in the first period, banging against a number of Senators players and nearly getting into a fight with winger Brian McGrattan. The pair were sent off for roughing after dropping their gloves and tussling in front of the Ottawa net.
The Bruins also hired away former Ottawa assistant general manager Peter Chiarelli in May, naming him the team’s GM after firing Mike O’Connell. Chiarelli later fired coach Mike Sullivan and replaced him with Dave Lewis.
Tim Thomas stopped 35 shots and P.J. Axelsson also scored for Boston.
“I know he didn’t want to make too big a deal out of it before the game, but I’m sure he’s happy right now,” Thomas said of Chara.
Dany Heatley scored a second-period power-play goal for the Senators, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Martin Gerber had 30 saves for Ottawa, but he couldn’t get close to Chara’s shot that beat him over the right shoulder.
“The power-play goal was a goal where the goaltender couldn’t see the puck,” Lewis said. “I’m not just thinking of him, I’m thinking it was a nice win for everyone. Timmy made some big saves when we needed them. I don’t know if you could’ve scripted it any better.”
Chara’s play looked very familiar to the Senators.
“That’s what he was for us,” Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. “He’s a big man out there, played a lot of minutes, matched up against the better lines and shot the puck at times. Obviously, they’ve really focused on him being the point man on the power play and finally he got one through.”
After a scoreless first period, the Senators converted a two-man advantage into Heatley’s goal at 17:21 in the second. Heatley, positioned at the right side of the crease, banged in a cross-ice pass from Jason Spezza.
The Bruins tied it with 12:55 to play in the third when Axelsson stole the puck from defenceman Tom Preissing, broke in alone and fired a wrist shot into the top left corner.
The Senators had scored a club-record tying 21 goals in their previous three games.
Thomas had the best stop of the night early in the second period when he made a diving glove save, coming across the crease to rob Heatley.
Notes: Ottawa defenceman Andrej Meszaros assisted on Heatley’s goal, giving the team’s defencemen 16 points in the last four games. … The Bruins entered the night last in the NHL in penalty killing. … Chara’s goal was the first power-play goal allowed by the Senators on the road this season.