BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are moving on to the second round of the NHL Playoffs, sending an old friend home in the process. With Boston eliminating the Washington Capitals on Sunday night with a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of their opening-round series, the Bruins ended Zdeno Chara’s season.
The 44-year-old defenseman left the Bruins over the offseason after a 14-year run as the Boston’s captain, but Big Zee left a lasting impact on all of his former teammates. That led to an emotional few moments for several Bruins when it came time to greet Chara in the post-series handshake line on Sunday night.
Patrice Bergeron — who now dons the C on his Boston sweater — shared a long embrace with Chara on the ice, and he reflected on their relationship at the podium.
“We’ve had so many battles together,” Bergeron said of Chara. “It was definitely different to play him in a playoff series. Obviously, we played against each other all year, so that kind of helped getting used to it for the playoffs. But that being said, it’s always different at that time of the year. You try not to think about it, try to play your game and concentrate on what we can do as a team. I definitely feel great to finish it off right away tonight.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 24, 2021
Bergeron scored twice for Boston on Sunday night, first giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the second period and then a little breathing room with a third period tally to put them up 3-1 with less than eight minutes to go in the game. David Pastrnak got the scoring started for Boston with his second goal in as many games.
He too felt overcome with emotions when he saw Chara approaching him in the handshake line.
“It was obviously a lot of emotion going through,” said Pastrnak. “Zdeno is a guy that helped me grow up as a person and especially how to be a pro. It was a little emotional, but I can’t wait to catch up and hope to see him back home at the end of this. The emotion was high and I can’t thank him enough.”
Chara did not speak with reporters after the game and his future remains unknown. His contract with the Capitals was for just one season, and it’s unclear if he’ll return for a 24th NHL season. Chara averaged just 16:16 of ice time in the series against Boston, finishing as a plus-1.