By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
It’s hasn’t even been a week since Boston Bruins fans last threw their hats to celebrate Patrice Bergeron’s first career hat trick. On Monday, whatever hats fans had left, were flung to the TD Garden ice once again as Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara scored his first hat trick in a 7-0 rout over the Carolina Hurricanes. Though the logistics of the win were the same–a shutout for Tim Thomas, multiple-point night for Bruins’ skaters–there was a lot to like from the Bruins’ fourth win in five games.
Chara joined the likes of Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Glen Wesley by becoming the fourth defenseman to ever record a hat trick while donning a Bruins uniform. This, coming from the same player that many called out in Montreal for his lack of impact on the team. Three goals later, and suddenly it’s a different scenario.
“Obviously it’s a very humble feeling and mostly a happy feeling,” said Chara after the game. “But you know, when I look at it, some of the greatest players, for example, Nicklas Lidstrom, just got his [first career hat trick] after 1300-1400 games. So, it’s pretty special.”
Chara’s first tally came mere seconds from coming out of the box for a slashing call that nullified what would have been Milan Lucic’s 17th goal of the season. With Mark Recchi on an odd-man rush, Chara took the puck down the left side of the ice for himself and sniped a shot passed Cam Ward who was immediately removed after stopping three of his first five shots.
Chara’s final two goals both came on the power play from his usually point position on the blue line. He now has 10 goals on the season and five goals and three assists in his last six games.
“He was unbelievable today and not just offensively but even defensively he was great,” said Bergeron, who also recorded a goal and assist in the victory. “And you know that’s our leader, that’s our captain, that’s why he’s probably the best defenseman in the league.”
Not to be lost underneath Chara’s accomplishments was Tim Thomas who stopped all of Carolina’s 31 shots in route to his 21st win and league-leading seventh shutout of the season. Thomas lowered his goals-against-average to 1.82 and save percentage to .944%.
Not to be outdone on defense…
After missing 18 straight games due to a broken hand, Mark Stuart got the Bruins on the board first with his goal in the first period, his first tally of the season. Stuart, who’s position with the Bruins came into question with the recent strong play of Steven Kampfer, fired a blast on the blue line off of a feed from Adam McQuaid.
“When you’ve been out for five or six weeks and then you come back and play a pretty solid game like he did, you’ve got to be pleased,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien during his post-game press conference. “I thought it was nice to see him get that goal right off the get-go and the first chance he got at shooting the puck, he scored. The rest of it, he kept his game pretty simple and when he kept it simple he moved the puck well and I thought he was good.”
McQuaid also had a good night for himself, picking up two assists in his first career multi-point game. McQuaid also dropped the gloves with Carolina’s Troy Brodie after Brodie took a run at Stuart.
“Well we all know it’s been a little that [Stuart] has been out,” said McQuaid. “So in that situation you kind of have to jump in there for your teammate. We all know Stuey’s not going to back down so it was just kind of something that you need to do. It kind of puts him in a tough spot, so I guess someone had to jump in there for him.”
Kampfer and Dennis Seidenberg also registered an assist on the night with Johnny Boychuk being the only Bruin blue-liner not to get on the scoresheet.
Bruins getting offensive at home
Boston wrapped up a four-game home stand with a 3-1 record but most importantly, outscoring their opponents 22-8; three of the games with six or more goals, two of which coming along with a Tim Thomas shutout. The Bruins are now in eighth in the league in goals for (139), second in goal differential (+39) and still first in goals against (101).
It doesn’t quite stop there for the Bruins either.
Boston has had some pretty decisive victories through the 22 games played at the TD Garden this season, boasting a record of 12-7-3, not including the loss to the Phoenix Coyotes while in Prague. Five of those 22 games were shutouts, (four for Tim Thomas and one for Tuukka Rask) while five came with the B’s scoring five or more goals. On home ice this season, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 69-42 and still managed to get shutout three times. The B’s have also seen hat tricks from Chara along with Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron earlier in the season.