Max Pacioretty(notes) and Zdeno Chara(notes) have history, stemming from their postgame shoving match in January. With just under 16 seconds remaining in the second period on Tuesday night, their rivalry took a stunning and disturbing turn: Chara rode Pacioretty into the glass between the benches, leaving him motionless on the ice before he was taken off on a stretcher:
Chara was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. The refs declared the period over. The Canadiens told the AP that Pacioretty was "conscious and moving his extremities when he was taken to the hospital for observation."
Scary, scary scene ... but was it intentional? Clearly, Pacioretty had nudged the puck ahead and Chara finished a check to take him out of the play. The interference call was correct; the major was based on the injury. Was it a case of reckless play by Chara or simply unfortunate geography for the hit on Pacioretty?
Here's how NESN in Boston saw the play, with Gord Kluzak on the analysis:
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe reports that Pacioretty is "OK at local hospital. Full use of limbs."
QMI with words from Chara, who came off the Bruins team bus to speak with reporters:
"Basically we were racing for the puck and battling for position. As the puck went by, I was riding him out," said Chara, who has a reputation for hard, but not dirty play. "(It's) very unfortunate that at the same time I pushed him a little bit, he kind of leaned and jumped a little bit, and just hit the glass extension. It's very unfortunate.
"I knew we were somewhere close to our bench, but obviously that wasn't my intention, to push him into the post. It's very unfortunate, in that situation, everything's happening fast. I wasn't planning to do that. That's not my style to (try to) hurt somebody. I always play hard, play physical, but I never try to hurt anybody. I hope he's okay."
"I think what people have to understand is Zdeno is not a dirty player," Bruins coach Claude Julien said in his NESN postgame interview with Naoko Funayama. "He certainly never meant for that to happen. I think if anything he tried to rub him out in the boards. Unfortunately it's the partition that did the damage. If it's anywhere else on the ice, it might be a normal interference call at worst. Unfortunately he hit the partition. That's something that' we've happen often. I know there's padding there and we've tried to rectify that as far as helping guys not get hie in that area, but it still continues to happen."
The Habs won the game, 4-1. Obviously, the primary concern is with Pacioretty, and one hopes that a player that's been vital to the Canadiens is OK. But will the Bruins lose Chara for a while for this hit?