- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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MONTREAL -- The Canadiens exacted revenge on the Bruins for the 8-6 loss they suffered Feb. 9 that was termed the "Beatdown in Beantown" with a convincing 4-1 win at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night. But neither the win nor the game was the main topic of conversation after the game between the two rivals, who will play once more this season at Boston on March 24.
With 15.8 seconds left in the second period, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara followed through on a hit to Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty near the end of the Bruins bench. Pacioretty went flying face-first into the stanchion separating the glass and the bench, and then lay virtually motionless on the ice for 10 minutes before he was immobilized and carried off on a stretcher.
Fortunately, Pacioretty was reportedly moving his extremities and was conscious at a local hospital after the game, but was reportedly diagnosed with a concussion.
Back at the Bell Centre, the two teams were giving very different takes on the hit and whether there was intent to injure or not. Chara briefly spoke to the media and immediately expressed concern for Pacioretty but said he wasn't trying to hurt the Habs winger.
"I'm battling for position and as the puck went by I was riding him out and it's very unfortunate that at the same time I push him a little bit he leaned over and jumped a little bit and just hit the glass extension, so it's very unfortunate," Chara explained.
"I knew we were somewhere close to our bench but obviously that wasn't my intention to push him to the post," Chara said. "Like I said, it's very unfortunate, and in that situation with everything you have to think fast. You're not planning to do that or that's not my style to hurt somebody. I always play hard and play physical but I never try to hurt anybody, so I'm hoping he's OK."
With Chara receiving a game misconduct, the play will be reviewed by the league and there is a chance he could be suspended or at least fined.
Chara said he didn't think a suspension was warranted.
"Obviously we have to wait, but I don't see it," Chara said when asked about a possible suspension. "Like I said, it's very unfortunate. It's a thing that just happened and it does happen in a game and what else can I say? It just happened that he got hit right in the head from that glass extension."
The Habs didn't seem to agree. Goaltender Carey Price, who made 30 saves in the win, was blunt in saying what he thought of the hit.
"All I can say was what it looked like. It looked like Patch chipped the puck in, took two or three or four strides and got his head pushed into the turnbuckle," Price said.
"Everybody's aware of what's what out there," he said. "I don't care what anybody says, you're aware of your surroundings. It's your job out there to know what's where. But the game does happen fast.
"He's a big guy, he's a big physical presence, and he can hurt somebody if somebody's not paying attention. Physical play is part of hockey, as long as it's in the rule book," Price added.
Chara's teammates defended their captain, saying he's not a player who would try to injure an opponent.
"Obviously he caught that partition there on the side of the board and it's unfortunate, but at the same time it's kind of a fluky play," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, who himself has suffered two concussions, one of which forced him to miss the majority of the 2007-08 season. "He [Chara] just tried to buy himself some time and kind of pushed him out of the way and his head got caught. So I really hope he is OK, and to be honest with you, you never want to see that on both sides."
"I didn't get a chance to speak to him after but you could tell, when I just saw him, that he felt real bad," Bergeron said. "I know that like he said, he just tried to push him out of the way and buy some time and he's so big and strong and Z -- that's not him and not his type of play. That's not his style."
The Bruins' other alternate captain, Mark Recchi, also said there was no intent to injure. He said that the referees told him the play was a "clean hit" but had to be penalized because of the resulting injury.
"You don't like to see that," Recchi said, of Pacioretty laying motionless on the ice. "It's tough to see that and I hope he's all right and it sounded like he is all right, which is great, and it's just unfortunate because if he gets hit on the other side of the ice, nothing happens to him. It's an unfortunate incident."
"The refs even said there was nothing dirty about it," Recchi said when asked about a possible suspension or any intention from Chara on the hit. "There wasn't anything dirty about it from what they said. When a guy gets hurt, they have to call it, and that's what their explanation was. They said it was not dirty by any means."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.
Chara says his hit to Pacioretty wasn't intentional, but some Habs are skeptical.