Sports

Bruins complete sweep without captain Chara

The Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins shake hands at the end of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday, May 16, 20019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. The Bruins won 4-0.
The Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins shake hands at the end of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday, May 16, 20019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. The Bruins won 4-0. tlong@newsobserver.com

The News & Observer and The Boston Globe are sharing stories during the Eastern Conference finals of the NHL playoffs.

The Bruins opened the series without defenseman Charlie McAvoy. They clinched it without his top-pair partner.

Zdeno Chara, who participated in Thursday’s morning skate, did not dress for Game 4. The team said he was day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

“This time off will help him,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I believe he’ll be ready to go in Game 1, whenever that is. We don’t think it’s series, but I’ve said that before about some of our guys and found out later.”

It was the first playoff game Chara missed in eight years, breaking a 98-game streak, and the second playoff game he has missed in his 13 season as Boston’s captain.

On April 16, 2011, Chara was hospitalized with dehydration before Game 2 of a first-round series with Montreal. The Bruins lost that game, but Chara returned for Game 3. Two months later, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed him the Stanley Cup.

On Thursday, Chara, 42, ceded his lineup spot to John Moore, who played for the first time since Game 7 of the Toronto series. Moore had struggled with an upper-body injury since he was checked in the back by Tampa Bay’s Adam Erne on March 25.

Moore, like Chara a left shot, allowed coach Bruce Cassidy to maintain his left-right balance. Matt Grzelcyk moved up to play with McAvoy, his fellow BU Terrier. Moore skated on the third pair with Connor Clifton. The trusted Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo pair remained intact. Krug skated 27 minutes, while Carlo logged 23:28.

Moore also filled Chara’s spot as Carlo’s partner on the penalty kill.

Chara played 22:06 in Game 3, including a heavy 5:26 on the penalty kill. He is second on the Bruins in ice time (22:32) this postseason.

His next playoff game will be his 131st, one behind Don Marcotte for third in Bruins history. Patrice Bergeron, who played in his 129th on Thursday, and David Krejci (125th) were behind him on the list.

The Bruins had another scare when Grzlecyk was hammered by Carolina’s Sebastian Aho around the 9:00 mark of the third period. He was slow to get to the bench and needed help getting over the boards. He said afterward he was fine. “Just lost my breath,” he said.

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