BOSTON (CBS) — Zdeno Chara returned from a left knee injury Thursday night, but the Bruins captain wasn’t very pleased with his performance.

In his first game since tearing a ligament in his knee seven weeks ago, Chara saw 24:11 of ice time in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s understandable that there would be some rust to knock off after a 19-game absence, but Chara holds himself to some pretty lofty standards.

“It was exciting to be playing a game, that’s for sure. There’s no secret that I felt the absence of missing a good chunk of time. But again, I’m not going to make excuses,” Chara said after the loss. “Just you have those games that you have to break in and I’m looking forward to the next game to be better.

Plus/Minus: Chara Will Need Time To Knock Off Rust

“You can practice as much as you want to but you will never replace the game situations or the way you’re going to be reading plays and so on. So yeah, I mean early on it was just one of those things that I was trying to really focus to make simple plays. Overall I was just really trying to compete every shift, work hard every shift, and that was my goal,” he said.

Chara was called for a pair of penalties during the game, once for hooking in the first period and a delay of game in the second, but the Blackhawks did not capitalize on either man-advantage. The defenseman also played 1:50 on the power play and had a good scoring chance in the second period, but couldn’t put a loose puck by Chicago netminder Scott Darling.

“I saw the puck was just stuck right underneath his pad and all we needed was just maybe a strong push and the puck would go in. But I got kind of dragged down and then he kind of squeezed it really well,” Chara recalled of his scoring bid. “So, it was a good scoring chance and too bad that we didn’t put that one in.”

While Chara wasn’t pleased with his showing, his teammates were certainly happy to have their 6-foot-9 defenseman back.

“It means a lot,” said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. “I thought he was great for a guy that missed close to 20 games. He was himself I thought. He looked good and was definitely calming everything down in our zone and made things a lot easier.”

Kalman: Bruins Need To Find Their Spark Earlier In Games

His fellow blue liners pointed to their captain’s leadership, both on and off the ice, as giving them a big emotional lift on Thursday.

“Obviously he does what he does on the ice, but in the locker room, on the bench he speaks a lot and he communicates very well, so it was a big emotional lift for our team,” said Torey Krug.

“Just the way he gives himself, the way he leads the team and gets everybody going,” said Dennis Seidenberg.

Chara’s next chance to knock off his rust comes Saturday afternoon, when the Bruins host the Ottawa Senators at the TD Garden.

MORE BRUINS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON

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