Only that particular handshake line pulled the strings of the heart more than usual, with Zdeno Chara kissing his former teammates after what was potentially his last game in the NHL.
Chara has not said one way or another if he plans to attempt a return for the 2021-22 campaign, but at 44, there’s not much but the future. Hall of Fame could accomplish.
Sunday marked Chara’s 200th career playoff game, including 150 in the Bruins’ uniform. Only 20 other skaters in NHL history have played 200 postseason games.
“We had so many battles together that it was really different playing him in a playoff series,” Patrice Bergeron told reporters after the game. “We’ve been playing against each other all year, which has helped a little getting used to for the playoffs, but that being said, it’s always different this time of year.
The Bruins decided to quit Chara last offseason after 14 years and the defenseman considered retirement before signing a one-year contract with the Caps.
Chara and the city of Boston will always be connected after winning a Norris Trophy, a Mark Messier Leadership Award and leading the team to a Stanley Cup ten years ago.
His influence on the young Bruins also cannot be underestimated.
“The emotions were strong,” added David Pastrnak. “I can’t think about it enough for what he’s done for me. … He’s been a big part of me growing up as a pro and as a person.
Sudden death OT? More like sudden life OT for Preds
It took two straight games, more extra time and two dramatic back-to-back home wins for the Nashville Predators over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Preds’ warm-up after 60 minutes is very much in line with how they have performed at Bridgestone Arena this season as well.
Nashville actually won every home game of the regular season that required extra time. Now, is the five-on-five OT playoffs a whole different animal than the five-minute, three-on-three setting we see in the regular season before games are finally settled by a shootout? Highligths. Still, the Preds are now 2-0 in overtime-requiring home playoffs, so the results speak for themselves.
Match 4, Matt Duchene finished it on an individual beauty effort. Luke Kunin was the hero of Game 5’s double OT when he was left wide open in the slot machine to sneak into the game after receiving a new twig on his team’s bench.
This two-game-apiece streak is not how most expected it to play out.
The Hurricanes were roughly three-to-one favorites after all, but it’s not like the underdog Preds had been completely canceled by the tipsters.
Uh, oops …
Saros breaks long-standing franchise record … which he set two days before
Juuse Saros was once again one of the main reasons the Predators got the W, setting a new franchise record for most saves in a playoff game with 58. The previous record was set by, well, Saros in Game 4 when he stopped 52 shots.
The Predators were fortunate enough to be still in the game after the first 20 minutes, with Carolina controlling the puck and pace of play. The shooting attempts were an incredible 38-8 in favor of the Hurricanes after one period, but Saros allowed only one goal and he was tied after the first.
Saros became the second goaltender in NHL history to make 50 or more consecutive playoff saves, joining Curtis Joseph who accomplished the feat in 1993 while with the Blues.
Saros now leads the playoffs with 171 saves (42.75 saves per game) as the series returns to Raleigh for a deciding 5 game.
No Kadri, no problem for the Avs
Nazem Kadri gives the Colorado Avalanche envious depth in the middle, but for reasons the hockey world knows the center was not available in its usual spot between Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky on Sunday.
Kadri was serving the second of his eight-game suspension for an illegal headshot against St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk. In the short term at least, Kadri’s teammates were able to overcome his absence.
Colorado’s front row was just too much for the Blues. The trio of Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each scored a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win that completed the sweep and they combined for nine goals and 24 total points in the four-game series.
The Avalanche will face the winner of Vegas-Minnesota (the Golden Knights have a chance to end this streak on Monday) and that’s where Kadri’s style could be sorely missed.
As it stands, Kadri could miss the entire second round. He would be eligible to return for a Game 7 if necessary – that is, unless Kadri’s appeal is successful.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Kadri, a repeat offender by league standards, is appealing the latest extra discipline imposed on him. Gary Bettman will hear the appeal and if Kadri is not satisfied with the NHL commissioner’s decision, he can appeal again to an independent referee.