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Entering Monday’s matinee contest against the Hurricanes, just three Bruins defensemen have ever scored a hat trick in a game. Now, we can add Zdeno Chara’s name to that list. Chara scored three goals, joining Bobby Orr (who had a ridiculous nine career hat tricks), Ray Bourque, and Glen Wesley.
“That’s pretty special company,” Chara told reporters. “I don’t know if I deserve to be in that company.”
Take away all of Chara’s goals, and the Bruins still would have blown out Carolina, as they won 7-0 at the TD Garden in the first of a home-and-home with the ‘Canes. Mark Stuart scored in his first game back from a fractured right ring finger, and Greg Campbell, Patrice Bergeron, and Michael Ryder all tallied goals as well in the rout.
Chara’s first goal gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the first and chased Hurricane goalie Cam Ward. His second came against goalie Justin Peters four minutes later on a Bruins power play, and his third came in the third period with five minutes to go.
After he scored his final goal, the normally stoic Chara was smiling from ear-to-ear, and signaled to the crowd to toss their hats onto the ice. One by one, Bruins hats came flying from all over the arena, and Chara was relishing in the special moment.
The scoring barrage is nothing new for the Bruins, who have now scored at least six goals in three of the last four games. Flash back to one year ago, when this team could barely score two goals on any given night. They have certainly come a long way, right Claude?
“This is what we’ve been preaching all year,” Claude Julien told reporters. “We’ve just been getting better at it.”
Lost in all the goalscoring was the outstanding performance for Tim Thomas, who finished with his career-high sixth shutout in stopping all 31 shots he faced. He now has an NHL-best 1.88 goals against average, which if the season ended today would be the lowest mark since 2003-2004 (Miikka Kiprusoff finished with a 1.695 GAA that year). Meanwhile, his current .942 save percentage would be the best single season mark in NHL history, besting Dominik Hasek’s 1998-99 campaign.
Next up for the B’s is another date with the Hurricanes down in Carolina on Tuesday night.